Amal Clooney and other rights foundations criticize Thailand’s use of lèse majesté laws

Lebanese-British barrister and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, through the Clooney Foundation for Justice Initiative, released a statement on Thursday criticizing the Thai government for threatening pro-democracy protest leaders with the lèse majesté law.

“No one should be arrested or imprisoned merely for criticizing public officials or a system of government,” said Amal Clooney, who serves as Co-President of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

“Thailand should not respond to peaceful protests by cracking down on protesters through prosecutions that muzzle speech.”

The statement came following reports that as many as 15 protest leaders have been charged with lèse majesté. [For a full list, please click here]

“TrialWatch, a Clooney Foundation for Justice Initiative, has been monitoring the trials of Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, and others in Thailand,” the statement reads. “The Clooney Foundation for Justice notes with concern that they and others are now facing the additional charges of insulting royalty as a result of speeches calling for reforms to the monarchy.”

The Clooney Foundation for Justice Initiative is among many leading human rights organizations, to come out and condemn the Thai government for using unnecessary force on peaceful pro-democracy protesters.

Another statement released by 13 International Human Rights NGOs, including Amnesty International, FIDH, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch on Thursday evening, criticized the “Thai police’s unnecessary and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters marching to the national parliament in Bangkok.”

“We call on the Thai government to respect, protect, and fulfill the right of demonstrators to peacefully protest, in line with Thailand’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and customary international law,” the statement said in its conclusion.

During the past five months, hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets in Bangkok and across Thailand to demand for sociopolitical, structural and monarchy reforms.

On Thursday, thousands of protesters rallied in front of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) Headquarters to demand the government of Prayut Chan-Ocha to step down, and the King to relinquish his control of royal funds, worth billions of dollars, to be spent proportionately throughout the country instead.

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