The Southeast Asian Press Alliance expresses its grave concern over the Thai military’s arbitrary detention of Mr Pravit Rojanaphruk, senior reporter of the English-language daily, The Nation. SEAPA demands his immediate and unconditional release.
Pravit’s detention raises several basic human rights issues, including:
- Right to liberty and security of person. (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR, article 9). Pravit was summoned by the military without any clear reason or charge. He was also denied access to outside communication and to his lawyers; and his detention place is not revealed since he was taken to the army headquarters on Sunday.
- Right to freedom of opinion (ICCPR article 19-1). Pravit is well known for his views that are in opposition to the current government. He is being held for ‘attitude adjustment’ under a current wave of similar detentions by the government. A person’s right to her or his own opinion and belief is inviolable and a non-derogable right which must be protected by the government at all times, even in times of war.
- Right to freedom of expression (ICCPR article 19-2). Pravit is outspoken in his views, both through his articles and through social media. He, like everyone else regardless of their opinion, has the right to express these views by any means.
- Press freedom. As a reporter of a major media company, Pravit’s detention serves as a veiled threat to other members of the media who report or write critically about the government.
These human rights are protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand is obliged to uphold as a state party, as stated in article 4 of the Interim Constitution of 2014.
At the very least, the government must provide a clear explanation why Pravit Rojanaphruk is being held in detention, which, as he is a civilian, should be conducted within the bounds of law and respect to due process. Otherwise, he must be released immediately and unconditionally.
We reiterate our opposition to the government’s practice to summon people for ‘attitude adjustment’, which is against core human rights to be protected at all times. These summons are used by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) not only to intimidate those detained, but especially as it discourages critical views on the government and its measures and policies.
Arbitrary and unlawful detentions for ‘attitude adjustment’ must be stopped. Instead the NCPO should exercise greater tolerance towards diverse views, including criticism, which is crucial at this critical transitional juncture and towards their own goals for the stability of the future of Thai politics and for lasting peace in the country.
In Pravit’s case, his clear positions in his writing is part of his duty as a journalist, especially to be clear to the audience on where he stands regarding current events.
SEAPA demands for an immediate release of Pravit. No legal action must be taken against him, as well as all other people who merely express their opinion.