Statement calling for the examination and prompt release on the case of Tiwagorn, who was detained after wearing shirt “I Lost Faith in the Monarchy”

According to Prachatai, on 9 July 2020, Mr. Tiwagorn Withiton was forcibly taken from his home in Khon Kean by police officials to Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital in Khon Kaen. The police also confiscated his personal mobile phone, computer, and shirt which is perceived critical to the monarchy, while some of the troops have been deployed to monitor the area. Prior to Tiwagorn’s detention, several authorities constantly came to visit and urge him to stop wearing such shirt at his home.

It is reported to TLHR that the police officials took Kriangkrai Singhol to Chiangkhan Police Station to document his case in a daily report as he set the picture of Tiwagorn wearing the shirt as a cover picture on his Facebook account. However, on 14 July 2020, a charge was not issued against Kriangkrai.

TLHR is an organization working to provide legal and litigation assistance to individuals who have been summoned, arrested, and detained unjustifiably by state authorities as a result of exercising their freedom of expression and engaging in political participation. TLHR concerns that this kind of detention by state authorities may be carried out unconstitutionally according to the law, as it intends to stop an individual from exercising his/her right to freedom of expression. Thereby, TLHR has the concerns as following.

  1. The sentence “I Lost Faith in the Monarchy” does not count as defamation, an insult, or a threat under Section 112 of the Criminal Code. It also does not count as sedition under Section 116 or as any kind of computer data listed as criminal offenses under Section 14 of the Computer Crime Act. B.E.2550. Therefore, the persons who wear the shirt with such sentence or those who post a photo with such sentence cannot be considered as the perpetrators to the law, and thus state authorities shall have no right to prosecute such persons according to the authority given by the law.
  2. Tiwagorn is sane and can still communicate normally and consciously. He is not in the condition that would cause harm to others’ lives or others’ properties. Also, he does not need any treatment nor immediate treatment, and he, himself, is still capable of giving consent to the treatment. By showing no sign of any serious illnesses, the forcible detention for treatment of Tiwagorn by state authorities is contrary to Section 22 of the Mental Health Act, B.E. 2551. In the case of forcible admission to the hospital for treatment, personal consent is needed according to Section 21 (of Mental Health Act, B.E. 2551) not from relatives nor any of the third parties. According to the fact that Tiwagorn was forcibly taken from his home by six police officers to Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital, it is evident that he did not show consent to being admitted for the treatment. Also, from mid-June, he reported that he had been visited by state officials, urging him to stop wearing the shirt. The fact that the police took around 10 vehicles to Tiwagorn’s house without a request from his family could also mean that his family might not be able to tell the authorities what they really want as they were intimidated by the troops of officers. Even after the forcible hospital admission, several polices from the Mueng Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station have been set to guard the hospital for 24 hours. It is very questionable that such conduct by state authorities in detaining Tiwagorn was done according to his consent.
  3. The forcible detention of Tiwagorn was conducted despite having no sign of necessity nor a request made by the patient himself. If such operation to detain Tiwagorn was carried out genuinely for the sake of the psychological treatment, it is unnecessary to confiscate his mobile phone, computer, and shirt, as they were quite unrelated to the treatment. On 14 July 2020, Poj.Maj.Gen Putthipong Musikul, the commander of Provincial Police Region – Khon Kaen, said in the statement reported by BBC Thailand that the operation to detain Tiwagorn for treatment “was a part of medical procedures and that he has been being treated accordingly,” and there is no charge made against him. TLHR sees that, by searching and confiscating Tiwagorn’s personal belongings without any official warrants, certain operations were made arbitrarily and against the law, even for a medical reason.

To prevent the continuing improper use of medical procedures as a pretext to arbitrarily detain a person, which is an unlawful act with negative effects on both the public health sector and the judicial process, and to protect the right to freedom of expression as stated in Articles 9 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights calls on the Royal Thai Police to investigate whether the operation conducted by police officers from the Mueang Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station and the Chiangkhan Police Station is lawful or not, and calls on the state officers to immediately stop such action and operation for which they do not have legal authority, as they could constitute as an intimidation to the people, and to immediately cease the detention of Tiwagorn.