Statement: Legal Counsel Denied Access to Detainees of Thai Military Coup
24 MAY 2014 – LONDON – More than 150 Thai citizens who have been arrested by the military are unable to communicate with their lawyers, representing a violation of international human rights law, says Red Shirt legal counsel Robert Amsterdam.
“We don’t know where they are being held, we don’t know if they are being mistreated, and we haven’t been allowed to communicate with them,” Amsterdam said on behalf of a group of lawyers representing detained Red Shirt leaders. “After almost 72 hours, the fact that Gen. Prayuth’s coup is holding people hostage without rights beyond the reach of their lawyers is a clear gesture of intimidation. This represents a violation of both Thai and international law.”
There have also been incidences of harassment of lawyers representing those detained, including Mr. Titippong Srisaen, who was held for five hours before being released. Other members of parliament of the elected government have also been arrested, while today the coup leaders moved to dissolve Senate, taking over all powers of the state.
Amsterdam said the legal team is working in close contact with all relevant UN and international bodies in Thailand to try to protect both citizens and detainees. The Army’s ongoing conduct, which has included nighttime raids on private homes and hounding of people previously pardoned from lese majeste charges, has created a climate of fear among Thai society, Amsterdam says.
“Given the velocity of this crackdown, Prayuth appears to have no interest in maintaining peace, but instead is following the playbook of Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat,” said Amsterdam. “His tenuous support is rapidly eroding, and we are deeply concerned regarding public safety.”
This week Amsterdam announced that the elected leadership of Thailand may consider the establishment of a government in exile. Efforts are underway to document the actions of coup participants to be held accountable when rule of law is restored.