US actor George Clooney’s foundation stands up for Thai protesters

US actor George Clooney’s foundation is standing up for Thai protesters through its TrialWatch initiative. The initiative is part of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and has been monitoring and evaluating the criminal proceedings against the protest leaders since 2020.

TrialWatch urged Thailand to adhere to its international human rights obligations in an amicus brief submitted on Monday to the Bangkok Criminal Court. Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, and TrialWatch expert, Kevin Bell, submitted the brief. The document calls for the court to dismiss the case against 22 protest leaders charged with insulting the monarchy, sedition and other offences.

The protest leaders face between seven and 15 years in prison if convicted of all charges. The leaders are lawyers, activists, journalists, and university students. TrialWatch monitors have attended the trials, and say that the prosecution has not presented evidence that the defendants’ statements were false.

According to Bangkok Post, the defence has submitted multiple requests for the court to order certain institutions to provide financial and travel records but has refused. TrialWatch says the refusal undercuts the defence’s ability to prove the statements were true.

The defendants participated in demonstrations in Bangkok on September 19, 2020. During the demonstrations, protest leaders called for amendments to the constitution and reform of the monarchy.

TrialWatch based its amicus brief on the fact that Thailand is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The ICCPR requires that defendants be able to contest the evidence and arguments against them, and access the materials necessary to do so. Bell noted that the charges against the defendants are unclear.

“It is essential to note that it is unclear whether the statements made by the defendants even qualify as lèse-majesté under what is already an overbroad definition.”

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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