Amnesty International Thailand on the arrest of an artist from Phuket after posting about a lack of Covid-19 screening at the Suvarnabhumi Airport while arriving back from Spain 

25 March 2020

Amnesty International Thailand

Photo : Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

According to reports that an artist from Phuket has been arrested for posting a Facebook message alleging that he encountered no Covid-19 screening at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand says that the detention and legal action taken against those who criticize the government peacefully signifies an attempt to muzzle freedom of expression in the run up to the enforcement of the Emergency Decree. The Computer Crime Act with vague content could be subject to broad interpretation and has often been used as a tool to stymie dissenters.  


Thailand should drop immediately and unconditionally the charges and ensure that all restrictions on human rights are enforced accordingly to the principle of necessity and proportionality.”  

Thailand must ensure that under the State of Emergency, no measures imposed to stem the Covid-19 outbreak will be used as a tool to arbitrarily and discriminatorily restrict rights and freedoms, particularly the right to freedom of expression of the dissenters.” 



According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), on 23 March 2020, Danai Ussama, 42, an artist was arrested by the police at a gallery in Phuket pursuant to the criminal arrest warrants after posting a message alleging that he encountered no Covid-19 screening at the Immigration checkpoints of the Suvarnabhumi Airport upon his return from Spain.    

He was then taken to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) and was charged for “importing to a computer system of false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country's security or cause a public panic” per Section 14(2) of the Computer Crimes Act. He was on the following day released on bail after placing 100,000 baht for bail bond.   

On 24 March 2020, the Thai government declared the State of Emergency starting from 26 March 2020 for one month in response to the spread of Covid-19. During the press conference, the Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha warned people about spreading news via social media and threatens to take legal action against anyone spreading “fake news”. The government is yet to explain in detail as to the specific measures to be imposed during the State of Emergency which may lead to disproportionate and unnecessary restrictions on human rights.