Ms Sirikan Charoensiri (June), human rights lawyer and legal and documentation specialist at Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), was summoned to report to the police at the Bangkok’s Samranrat Municipality Police Station at 10 am on 27 September 2016. The summons indicated the ground that she was allegedly being an accomplice to the offence of ‘making an appearance to public by words, writings or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution’ according to Section 116, ‘sedition’ like offence, as well as having together participated in an unlawful meeting or political gathering of five persons or more, which violates the Order of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) no. 3/2015 Section 12.” The case states between a military officer; Lt.Col. Pongsarit Pawangkanan, the accuser, and Mr. Rangsiman or Rome and others, the alleged offenders, which is in relation to the prosecution against the fourteen student activists of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) for organizing their anti-coup gatherings in Bangkok during 24-25 June 2015.

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The police summons against Ms. Sirikan was first issued on 14 September 2016 and ordered her to report for the charges on 20 September 2016. The summons was sent to her apartment while she was away. The second summons was issued on 20 September 2016 which ordered her to report to police on 27 September 2016. However, Ms. Sirikan was out of the country to attend the 33rd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17-25 September 2016, as invited by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and only returned to Thailand in the evening of 26 September 2016. Therefore, on 27 September, Ms. Sirikan submitted a letter to postpone the reporting for charges with police until a new date is scheduled. The Samranrat Police Station will later issue another summon.

The summons fail to provide any implicit details or circumstance of her actions which allegedly violated the law. Given that the summons were issued by the same police station, which handled fourteen NDM students case, and the same military officer, who filed against them, it is likely that Ms. Sirikan was accused for her presence to provide legal support for the students at their peaceful demonstration on 25 June 2015. This will come clearer once the police inform charges against her on the new reporting date.

On 24-25 June 2015, Ms. Sirikan and other TLHR lawyers and documentation officers were present to observe and monitor the activity of the fourteen students in Bangkok. All officers had clearly addressed themselves as TLHR staffs, and stated their purpose of being present to monitor the event, since there were reasonable concerns that the student activists might have been arrested and accused of violating the law. The police, however, had later apprehended the students on 26 June 2015 as anticipated, and later accused Mr. Baramee Chaiyarat, a human rights defender from Thailand’s Assembly of the Poor and a member of Amnesty International Thailand Board, for sedition charge, same as Ms. Sirikan. In addition to Ms. Sirikan, an owner of the place where the fourteen student activists stayed during their activities from 25-26 June 2015 received a summons issued on 14 September 2016 for the same offences. As of September 2016, there are 17 people including fourteen student activists, two human rights and social activists, and a human rights lawyer who have been facing charges filed by military in this case.

If indicted, Ms. Sirikan will face trial in a military court since the alleged offences were committed in 2015 prior to the enforcement of the Order of the Head of the NCPO no. 55/2016 on 12 September 2016 which discontinues the practice of prosecuting civilians in military courts for crimes committed after that date. The Order does not apply to pending civilian cases or those committed before 12 September 2016. If found guilty, she shall face punishment of imprisonment not exceeding seven years.

Further, Ms. Sirikan is now facing prosecution of offences related to refusing to comply with an order of competent officials, after she refused to let the officials search her car without a warrant on 27 June 2015. The hearing of prosecution order is scheduled at 9.30 am on 29 September 2016 at the Office of Prosecutor of Dusit District in Bangkok. She also received a summons for offences related to making false report to police due to her filing a complaint of malfeasance in office against some police who impounded her car following her refusal to consent to the warrantless search of her car for her clients’ belongings.

Related links:

THAILAND: New Democracy Movement Review of situations 24 – 27 June 2015

Police decided to file the case against the NDM’s attorney with the public prosecutor for preventing car search, the indictment decision by the prosecutor to be announced later pending the request from the attorney to have more witnesses examined

Postponed hearing of prosecution order against lawyer Sirikan Case status : Pending investigation advised by prosecutor