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Press briefing note on Bahrain and Thailand

Acting Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 9 December 2011

(1) Bahrain

At the request of the Government of Bahrain, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is dispatching a delegation to the country next week, from 13 to 16 December, to discuss how we can support national efforts towards the establishment of an open and democratic society in Bahrain.

The four-member delegation will be led by Mr. Bacre Ndiaye, the Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division at the UN Human Rights office, and Mr. Frej Fenniche, the Chief of the Middle East and North Africa Section.

The delegation looks forward to engaging with the Government, civil society, members of the political opposition and victims of human rights violations in the country. Upon its return, the mission will submit concrete recommendations to the High Commissioner on the way forward.

(2) Thailand

We are concerned about the ongoing trials and harsh sentencing of people convicted of lèse majesté in Thailand and the chilling effect that this is having on freedom of expression in the country. Such harsh criminal sanctions are neither necessary nor proportionate and violate the country’s international human rights obligations.

We urge the Thai authorities to amend the laws on lèse majesté. In the meantime, guidelines should be issued to the police and public prosecutors to stop arresting and charging individuals under these vaguely worded laws. In addition to the disproportionate prison sentences being handed down by the Courts, we are also concerned about the extended periods that accused persons are being held in pre-trial detention.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

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