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Press Releases, 4/7/2016

EU countries' ambassadors concerned over developments in Thailand

Press release 62/2016

Finland's Ambassador in Bangkok, Ms Kirsti Westphalen, and her colleagues form other EU countries had a meeting today with Mr Panryak Poolthup, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Thai Foreign Ministry.

"A referendum on Thailand's new Constitution will take place in August this year.  The Ambassadors voiced their concern over the fact that the expression of dissenting opinions is now prohibited," said Ms Westphalen.

The Ambassadors requested that the Thai military government uphold the principles of freedom of expression and opinion and allow all voices to be heard.

They also emphasised that upholding of these principles is of utmost importance in light of the forthcoming referendum. This is the only way to ensure that the referendum can be considered the result of a free and fair expression of the will of all people of Thailand and to be accepted by them as such.

Concern over restrictions on the freedom of speech

The Ambassadors emphasised that the use of attitude adjustment goes against the principles of freedom of expression and opinion. The recent announcement that this tool will continue to be used, and even for longer periods, against those expressing a dissenting view is an alarming development.

The EU Ambassadors expressed concern about the recent Order 13/2559 of the Thai military government. The order grants military from the rank of sub-lieutenant broad powers to conduct inquiries, and proceed with arrests and detentions without a court warrant for offences which are broad and ill-defined. Granting powers of the police and the judiciary to military personnel increases the risk of arbitrary detentions, breaches the rule of law and deprives citizens of essential legal protection and due judicial process.

The Ambassadors also raised the restrictions on the freedom of movement, with citizens banned from leaving the country.

At the meeting the EU Ambassadors recalled the role of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in ensuring that Thailand, as UN Member and key international partner, abides by its international obligations.

Finland's Ambassador to Thailand, Kirsti Westphalen, drew special attention to the case of journalist Pravit Rojanaphuk. She emphasised that Finland very much regrets the decision of the Thai government to prevent Mr Rojanaphuk, invited by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, from taking part in a visit to Finland that will be arranged in connection with UNESCO Press Freedom conference in Helsinki.

The meeting was conducted in a cordial atmosphere conducive to frank and open discussions.  Deputy Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Panyarak Poolthup told the Ambassadors about the domestic situation and progress achieved so far with the transition towards democracy in the country. Both sides recalled the solid and long-lasting relationship between the European Union and Thailand. The European Union and its member states, as friends and close partners, encourage Thailand to respect core democratic principles and values during this process of transition.

European Union press release:

Inquiries: Ambassador Kirsti Westphalen, tel. +66 922 529 504 (time difference + 4 hours).

This document

Updated 4/7/2016

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