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Thailand v. Sombat Boonngamanong (Defying the Junta’s Order)

In Progress Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Non-verbal Expression
  • Date of Decision
    September 21, 2015
  • Outcome
    Monetary Damages / Fines
  • Case Number
    N/A
  • Region & Country
    Thailand, Asia and Asia Pacific
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law, Military Order
  • Themes
    Political Expression

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Sombat Boonngamanong was sentenced by the Dusit Municipal Court in Bangkok on September 21, 2015, to pay a 500 Baht fine for defying the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – a military junta that seized power on May 22, 2015. After the NCPO launched a coup d’état, his name appeared on the NCPO’s order dated May 23, 2014, for him to report himself within the period given. Sombat did not go as being ordered and was accused of defying the junta’s order as a result. His case is the first case that has received a ruling when the defendant did not plead guilty.

“Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available. The information in this case is from the official website and Facebook page of the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw)”


Facts

Sombat, who is also known by the pseudonym “Bor Kor Kai Jud,” is a prominent red shirt activist who helped found the “Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship” (DAAD), which later changed its name to “United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship” (UDD) in 2010 [1].

When the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) launched a coup d’état on May 22, 2015, Sombat was summoned to report himself to the junta after his name appeared on the NCPO’s order No. 3/2014, dated May 23, 2014. The military prosecutor filed an official criminal charge for defying the NCPO’s order, according to the Announcement of NCPO’s no. 25/2014 and 29/2014, which ordered those who fail to summon themselves to the junta to face a maximum of 2 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 40,000 Baht or both, and refusing to comply with an official’s order according to Article 368 of the Thai Criminal Code [2].

Sombat was arrested on June 5, 2014, by police officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD). Additionally, military officers from the 21st Infantry Regiment raided his residence in Phan Thong District, Thonburi Province. He was taken to the 21st Infantry Regiment for questioning and detained there before being brought to the Military Court. It should be noted that the martial law was used during the time he was arrested and the law granted the authorities permission to detain any individual for seven days for questioning [3].

The court sentenced him to fine of 500 Baht ($14) on September 21, 2015. [4] The military prosecutor has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

[1] “Sombat Boonngamanong: Defying the Junta’s Order.” iLaw. http://freedom.ilaw.or.th/en/case/613

[2] “The Case of Bor Kor Lai Jud not Reporting Himself.” iLaw.  https://www.facebook.com/iLawClub/photos/a.10150540436460551.646424.299528675550/10156032584905551/?type=1&theater

[3] “Sombat Boonngamanong: Defying the Junta’s Order.” iLaw. http://freedom.ilaw.or.th/en/case/613

[4] “The Case of Bor Kor Lai Jud not Reporting Himself.” iLaw. https://www.facebook.com/iLawClub/photos/a.10150540436460551.646424.299528675550/10156032584905551/?type=1&theater


Decision Overview

The Court found that the Announcement of the NCPO no. 29/2014, dated May 23, 2014, which states the punishment for those whose names appear on the Order no. 1-3/2014 and 5-6/2014, is the additional punishment that is retrospective. According to the Court, a criminal law must not be retrospective and it cannot be issued against any specific person [1].

Therefore, the Dusit Municipal Court did not punish Sombat according to the punishment prescribed in the Announcement of the NCPO no. 29/2014. However, the Court concluded that the defendant had nevertheless failed to comply with the disclosure requirements of Article 368 of the Criminal Code. Thus, the Court sentenced Sombat to pay a 500 Baht fine without a jail term [2].

Regarding the defendant’s argument that he did not report himself to the junta because he had the right to act against the launch of the coup d’état and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion according to the Article 18 of the International Covenant on Cultural and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Court dismissed the defense because Article 47 of the Interim Constitution B.E. 2557 (2014) considers the NCPO’s announcement and orders as constitutional [3].

[1] “The Case of Bor Kor Lai Jud not Reporting Himself.” iLaw. https://www.facebook.com/iLawClub/photos/a.10150540436460551.646424.299528675550/10156032584905551/?type=1&theater

[2] “The Case of Bor Kor Lai Jud not Reporting Himself.” iLaw. https://www.facebook.com/iLawClub/photos/a.10150540436460551.646424.299528675550/10156032584905551/?type=1&theater

[3] “The Case of Bor Kor Lai Jud not Reporting Himself.” iLaw. https://www.facebook.com/iLawClub/photos/a.10150540436460551.646424.299528675550/10156032584905551/?type=1&theater


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

A coup d’état itself is unlawful, which makes its orders and announcements to call individuals to report themselves because of their political expression also unlawful. Those orders and announcements should not be considered as law. Thus, in this case, Sombat should not have been summoned by the junta to report himself due to his political activities.

 

 

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Thai., Interim Constitution (2014), art. 47.
  • Thai., Crim. Code art. 368
  • Thai., The NCPO Order no. 3/2014
  • Thai., Announcement of the NCPO No. 29/2014

Other national standards, law or jurisprudence

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

This case did not set a binding or persuasive precedent either within or outside its jurisdiction. The significance of this case is undetermined at this point in time.


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