THAILAND: Update on Thai Human Rights Lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri’s case

A Press Release from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Background: Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri is a lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and one of the legal representatives for the 14 activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM). On the night of 26-27 June 2015, after finishing her duty of providing legal assistance to the 14 activists at the Bangkok Military Court, Sirikan was requested by police officials to search her car to confiscate some mobile phones, which the students left with the lawyers before being brought to the prisons. Sirikan refused to let her car be searched, since the officials did not present a search warrant, and there was no justifiable evidence to conduct the search without a warrant at night. The officials then impounded her car overnight, and brought a court warrant to conduct the search on 27 June 2015. Sirikan later filed a complaint of malfeasance, under Section 157 of the Thai Criminal Code, against Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol Chatchayadetch and others for illegally impounding her car. Consequently, the police filed complaints against her, accusing her of refusing to comply with an official order without any reasonable cause or excuse after being informed of an order of an official given according to the power invested by law, and an offence of concealing or making away of property or document ordered by the official to be sent as evidence or for execution of the law, under Sections 368 and 142 of the Thai Criminal Code, and an offence of giving false information concerning a criminal offence to an inquiry official to subject an individual to a punishment under Sections 172 and 174 of the Criminal Code.

Progress of case: 
1. The case that Ms. Sirikan filed a complaint against Pol.Lt. Gen. ChayapolChatchayadetch for Malfeasance, an offence under Section 157 of the Thai Criminal Code – under the investigation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

2.The criminal charges against Ms. Sirikan for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with a competent official, offences under Section 142 (imprisonment not exceeding three years) and Section 368 (imprisonment not exceeding one month) of the Criminal Code – Ms. Sirikan had reported to the inquiry official to hear the charges on 9 February 2016. Both charges carry the maximum sentence rate not exceeding three years of imprisonment. Therefore the case is under the jurisdiction of the Municipal or District Courts. The inquiry official must finish the investigation file within 30 days, from the day of charge informing, to submit to the prosecutor, which was due on 9 March 2016. In her defense, Sirikan gave her additional statement and presented witnesses to police on 5 and 7 March 2016 after which the inquiry official informed that the investigation file would not be finished within the 30-day timeframe. In this case, if the public prosecutor decides to prosecute Sirikan, he must get a permission from the Attorney General to make a prosecution order according to Sections 7 and 9 of the Act on the Establishment of and Criminal Procedures in the Municipal Courts. In conclusion, this case is under police investigation by the inquiry official, and the public prosecutor will have to request a permission from the Attorney General, which the law does not indicate the time frame.

3. The criminal charges against Ms. Sirikan of filing a false police report, an offence under Section 172 (imprisonment not exceeding two years) and Section 174 (imprisonment not exceeding five years) of Criminal Code – As the inquiry official was informing Ms. Sirikan of the charges on 9 February 2016, Sirikan’s lawyer asked the inquiry official on the detail of the alleged offence. The inquiry official failed to indicate which information Sirikan had filed a report was false. So Ms. Sirikan refused to be informed of the charges in this case. The inquiry official did not yet press the charges against her and shall question the accuser for clarification of which information was false as alleged. The inquiry official will summon Sirikan to inform these charges later. At this time, Ms. Sirikan is not charged by police with two offences of filing a false police report. However, it is probable that the police will summon her to inform the charges again.