Thailand: Rights Lawyer Imprisoned For Peaceful Protest
Anon Nampa has advocated for social welfare, democracy, justice, rule of law, human rights and political reform for many years. Since 2006, he has engaged in peaceful protest including during periods of political transition and restrictions on human rights in the country.
In the face of the threat of imprisonment and sweeping restrictions on the peaceful exercise of the rights to public assembly and expression - including after a military coup in Thailand in 2014 - Anon Nampa has creatively exercised and championed his human right to participate in peaceful protests, to share opinions and propose political and social reforms. As a lawyer and activist, he has also worked with other members of civil society to monitor and peacefully resist official repression. Anon Nampa has provided free legal assistance to people who face criminal charges.
Thai authorities have responded to his and others’ activism with multiple criminal proceedings, fines, prolonged pre-trial detention and restrictive bail conditions. In response to youth-led mass public protest for human rights and democratic reform, Thai authorities intensified their crackdown on peaceful dissent. Authorities used a range of measures to punish and prevent protests by Anon Nampa and other protest leaders, including Ratsadon (the People), students, youth and children who were peacefully exercising their rights. Officials detained and targeted them with criminal charges, particularly after the protests focused on calls for reforms related to the monarchy. Anon Nampa was the first person to publicly discuss the monarchy during youth protests for reform and was the first person of the 280 individuals to be charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code governing lèse-majesté in the context of youth protests. He has the second highest number of charges under the law among protest leaders. During the Thailand’s military government’s rule between 2014 and 2019, authorities started eleven criminal proceedings against him related to his peaceful activism.
Anon Nampa and other activists face criminal proceedings for participating or posting about demonstrations, under laws which allow for excessive restrictions on the peaceful exercise of human rights or grant excessive latitude to interpret the peaceful exercise of rights as crimes. UN human rights experts have expressed concern at these laws. In particular, UN experts and governments in the UPR review have recommended their amendment or repeal. These include official restrictions under the Emergency Decree on public gatherings imposed to control the spread of Covid-19, which allows for two years' imprisonment and/or a fine; sections of the Thai Criminal Code on security, including Article 116 of the Criminal Code governing sedition which allows for seven years imprisonment and prohibits people "to raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country; or to cause the people to transgress the laws of the Country”; for Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, governing lèse-majesté which allows three to 15 years' imprisonment; the Public Assembly Act; and the Computer Crimes Act.
Authorities have arbitrarily detained Anon Nampa and other leading activists and individuals for prolonged periods in pre-trial detention and repeatedly denied them bail, including for reasons which the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has previously said do not justify the denial of bail. Anon was detained for almost a year between 2020 and 2022. Authorities have further imposed bail conditions broadly restricting individuals’ peaceful exercise of rights. After Anon Nampa spoke in reaction to the formation of a new government after 2023 elections at small-scale protests in Thailand in July 2023, police applied to revoke his bail for infringing its conditions, alleging that his involvement in protests violated previous bail conditions.
In 2021, Anon Nampa received the Gwangju 2021 Prize for Human Rights. Anon Nampa cofounded the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights to defend activists facing charges for peaceful protest and freedom of expression and monitor violations of human rights following the 2014 coup. The Clooney Foundation recognized their work with the Justice for Democracy Defenders Award in September 2023.
Anon has also filed two lawsuits against the Thai government and the NSO Group Technologies relating to the infection of his electronic devices with Pegasus spyware.
Anon Nampa is also a poet, songwriter, musician and has two young children, one of whom is 10 months old.