Thai authorities are prosecuting and harassing child human rights defenders for peacefully exercising their right to protest. Some children are facing charges that could see them imprisoned for up to 15 years.

In 2020, young people, including university and secondary school students under 18 years old, started a wave of peaceful protests across Thailand. The demonstrations spread from schools and universities to the streets.

Originally triggered by calls for democratic reform, the youth-led protest movement had encompassed calls for constitutional change, social reforms, an end to official repression of government critics, improved education, and school safety. Participants also campaigned for the rights of women, indigenous people, LGBTQIA+ people and ethnic minorities. 

Children who participated in peaceful demonstrations or shared their views in public speeches or online have faced detention, long-running legal proceedings, intimidation, harassment, and surveillance by Thai authorities - particularly after the protests focused on calls for reforms related to the Thai monarchy.

Authorities have prosecuted the majority of the children for violating official restrictions on public gatherings imposed to control the spread of Covid-19 under the Emergency Decree, which allows for two years' imprisonment and/or a fine, and which are no longer in force.

Children also face charges that could see them imprisoned for up to 15 years.

LGBTQIA+ campaigner Thanakorn ‘Petch’ Phiraban has been sentenced; ‘Sand’ is on trial, Chan Tonnampetch, an indigenous land rights activist, and 15-year-old protester “Yok” are under investigation.

We need to show the Thai authorities that there are thousands of people calling for them to stop targeting children who are simply exercising their right to freedom of expression. Please sign the petition now. 


Sign the Petition

  Our Petition

The Office of the Prime Minister
Government House,
Pitsanulok Rd
Dusit, Bangkok 10300

Dear Prime Minister,

I write to express my concern that your government is pursuing measures to punish children for exercising
their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Since widespread protests started in 2020, the Thai government has started criminal proceedings against at least 284 children for peacefully protesting or expressing their opinions. Authorities have targeted and intimidated them and others who have peacefully demonstrated with harassment, surveillance. I am concerned your actions may have a wider chilling effect on children’s ability to enjoy their right to protest. The situations of “Yok”, Thanakorn ‘Petch’ Phiraban, Chan Tonnamphet and “Sand” are emblematic of the hundreds of children penalized for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

In late 2022 Thanakorn received a sentence to 18 months and three years’ detention for lèse-majesté, after they spoke at two protests when 17 years old, as well as a suspended two-year sentence. They face additional charges under the Emergency Decree, as do “Sand”, a 17- year-old activist, and Chan. Authorities started criminal proceedings against “Sand” for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in 2021. Chan, an Indigenous land rights activist, is under investigation after voicing her community’s concerns about access to their land at a rally in 2022. “Yok”, aged 15, was detained between 29 March and 18 May 2023 and may face up to 15 years’ imprisonment, including under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, Thailand’s lèse majesté law, for peacefully protesting in October 2022.

Thailand has international obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to respect, protect and ensure children’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, so they can exercise them without fear of reprisals. These rights are important for children to be able to campaign for human rights and other issues affecting them.

Therefore, I call on you to:

  • Release all children detained simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly;
  • Drop all criminal proceedings, quash convictions, and end harassment and intimidation of children, targeted simply for exercising their human rights;
  • Respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression; and
  • Amend or repeal legislation which is incompatible with international standards relating to the exercise of these rights.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]