PPT has written an large number of posts about lese majeste prisoner Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.
Somyos was arrested at 12 noon on Saturday, 30 April 2011.He was accused of lese majeste and eventually convicted, not for anything he wrote, but as the editor of Voice of Taksin, which was said to have published material deemed to constitute lese majeste.
Essentially, the royalists wanted a “message” sent to opponents by persecuting Somyos.
Unlike almost all other lese majeste prisoners, Somyos bravely stood up to the threats, unconstitutional pressure and dragged out court procedures and dragged him around the country in a form of torture. He refused to plead guilty and the royalist courts and prosecutors persecuted him.
He was repeatedly refused bail.
Today, the long-time labor activist “was sentenced to six years in jail by the Supreme Court” for lese majeste and another year for defaming a military general, the latter, Saprang Kalayanamitr, being a royalist tool involved in planning the 2006 coup.
That seems to be his last legal avenue to prove his innocence. Given the time spent in jail, the junta should release him now.
We repeat our call for the immediate release of prominent Thai labour activist and magazine editor Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who is serving a jail sentence for violating the lese-majeste law. The Supreme Court of Thailand ruled today to reduce his jail sentence from 10 to 6 years.
“While the decision is a step towards Somyot’s early release, we remain concerned by the extremely harsh sentence” said Laurent Meillan, Acting Regional Representative of the South East Asia Regional Office.
The Supreme Court reduced Somyot’s prison sentence on the grounds of old age and the fact that he has been in jail since 2011.
In 2013, the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern about the extremely harsh sentencing of Somyot and stated that the conviction sent a wrong signal about freedom of expression in Thailand. The UN Human Rights Mechanisms have repeatedly urged the Thai Government to stop using lese-majeste provisions as a political tool to stifle critical speech and have repeatedly stated that that harsh criminal sanctions under the law are neither necessary nor proportionate.
In August 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Somyot’s detention was arbitrary and requested the Government of Thailand to take all necessary steps to “release Somyot and accord him an enforceable right to compensation” in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We urge the Thai Government to implement the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Somyot’s case.