date: June 3, 2011
document id: ALRC-COS-17-06-2011
HRC section: Item 3: General Debate
Speaker: Mr. Michael Anthony
An Oral Statement to the 17th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status
ASIA: ALRC voices concerns regarding the freedom of expression in Thailand and South Korea, and the deadly repression of demonstrators in Sri Lanka
Recalling the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings’ report, the ALRC is gravely concerned by the Sri Lankan police’s use of excessive force and live ammunition against demonstrators protesting against the Private Sector Pensions Bill on May 30th at Katunayake, in which one person died and over 250 people were injured. The ALRC reiterates the need for independent international investigations into a range of human rights abuses in the increasingly authoritarian country.
Concerning the Republic of Korea, the ALRC welcomes the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of expression following his country visit, notably the need to abolish criminal defamation and article 7 of the National Security Act; to amend vague and ambiguous articles of law on the internet; and to remove the need for prior approval for peaceful demonstrations and assemblies. The ALRC urges the South Korean government to ensure the swift and full implementation of the Rapporteur’s recommendations.
With regard to Thailand, since the 2006 coup, Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law) and the more recent Computer Crimes Act of 2007 have been used with increasing frequency to threaten, intimidate, arrest and prosecute dissidents and journalists. The ALRC has detailed, in a written statement to this session, several cases showing either overt, targeted criminal prosecution or wide-ranging intimidation and threats through legal and extralegal measures.
The ongoing prosecution of Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn clearly illustrates the over-use and manipulation of the law. She is Prachatai’s webboard editor, and is currently on trial for alleged violations of both Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, allegedly for not removing comments deemed offensive to the monarchy quickly enough from the webboard, for which she faces up to fifty years in prison.
The Thai government is manipulating the provision of “special duties and responsibilities” concerning freedom of expression in the ICCPR to justify its actions. As Thailand attempts to undergo a process of national reconciliation following the violence of April and May 2010, this latest constriction of speech and threat to human rights is of particular concern.