11 July 2024

The Thai Civil Court accepted a lawsuit today (Tuesday), against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and five others, filed jointly by the anti-establishment Ratsadon group, the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), a non-profit legal organization, and a feminist group, demanding the lifting of restrictions on free expressions and 4.5 million baht in compensation.

iLaw is represented by Yingcheep Atchanont, while the Ratsadon and the Feminist Liberation groups are represented by Attapon Buapat and Chumaporn Tangkliang respectively.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that they were charged by the police for addressing a protest held by “United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration” on March 24th, in violation of restrictions stipulated in the Emergency Decree, and argue that these restrictions impinge upon their constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Yingcheep, meanwhile, said that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state could impose certain restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, but could not restrict free political expression, adding that the venues of protests are normally open air and are not vulnerable to the spread of the disease.

He also said that he would like the civil court to revoke the restrictions retroactively, meaning that all charges related to the Emergency Decree and Criminal Code filed against the protesters will be dropped automatically.

The iLaw manager disclosed that his previous lawsuits filed with the Civil Court, demanding the revocation of the Emergency Decree, had been dismissed on the grounds that they had no merit, adding that the court should have included considered of the legitimacy of the decree in its deliberations.

Sanya Iadchongdee, a lawyer of the group, said the plaintiffs will ask the court to issue a temporary injunction to suspend the enforcement of the decree and associated restrictions.