Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 28th January 2013.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the trial and conviction of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk in Thailand under that country's lèse majesté laws; and what recent representations he has made to the Thai government to support the promotion of human rights in that country.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Our embassy in Bangkok has been following closely the case of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk. Three representatives of the embassy attended the trial on 23 January, and the embassy subsequently reported details of the outcome to me. Following the verdict, the European Union issued a statement expressing deep concern at the decision to sentence Somyot to 10 years imprisonment. The statement noted that the verdict seriously undermined the right to freedom of expression and press freedom. Our ambassador has also raised the issue with the Thai authorities.

The Government frequently raises human rights concerns with Thailand, both at ministerial and official level. For example, the then Minister of State, Mr Browne, raised human rights issues when he met Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung during his visit to Thailand in July 2012. That discussion included an exchange of views on lèse majesté.

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