Embattled human rights lawyer accused of sedition

The police have accused an embattled human rights lawyer of sedition and violation of the junta’s political gathering ban, for observing a pro-democracy protest.

Police from Samranrat Police Station issued a summon order for Sirikan Charoensiri, a lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), to report to the station on 27 September 2016, the TLHR reported.  

Sirikan was only informed about the summon on 26 September, right after returning from a trip to Switzerland. She had travelled to Geneva on 17 September to speak at the 33rd general meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The police permitted Sirikan to postpone reporting.

According to the summon letter, the TLHR lawyer is accused of violating Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law; and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons.

She is accused of such charges for observing a pro-democracy gathering at Victory Monument, Bangkok, on 25 June 2015. The gathering was organised by the New Democracy Movement (NDM) activist group.

The police also accused Rangsiman Rome and other key members of the NDM of the same charges.

Earlier in May, the police police investigators pressed charges against Sirikan under Articles 142 and 368 of the Criminal Code for propagating false accusations against investigating officers and for disobeying police orders.

Sirikan was accused of objecting to a search of her car by police officers on the night of 27 June 2015 in front of the Military Court of Bangkok, after 14 activists were arrested and taken to the Court. The police wanted to confiscate the mobile phones of some of the activists which were in Sirikan’s car but she refused, claiming that the police did not have with them a warrant to search her car.

The next day, she went to Samranrat Police Station at around 1pm to file a complaint against the police under Article 157 of the Thai Criminal Code — malfeasance in office — pointing out that officers unlawfully confiscated her car for the search.

After listening to the charges, Sirikan then submitted a letter to the prosecutor, saying that police officers attempted to search her car without a search warrant and that she was merely protecting her clients.

Sirikan Charoensiri, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (Photo from the New Democracy Movement)