Malaysia deports Thai anti-monarchy activist who sought asylum

Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn
Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (R) presides over the inauguration ceremony of the National Legislative Assembly at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 7, 2014. (Xinhua/Photo by Thai Royal/IANS) Xinhua

Malaysian authorities have deported a Thai anti-monarchy activist who was seeking asylum after fleeing persecution in her country, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

Praphan Pipithnamporn was detained by Malaysian authorities on April 24 following a petition by Thailand, where she faces charges of sedition over her ties to an anti-monarchy group, reports Efe news.

"Malaysia's flouting of international law has placed a Thai activist at grave risk of arbitrary detention and an unjust prosecution in Thailand," HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.

The activist, who had been arrested several times towards the end of last year, fled to Malaysia as she felt unsafe after taking part in a symbolic act against the monarchy during a ceremony memorialising the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Kuala Lumpur registered her as an asylum seeker on April 2, which, according to the HRW, put Malaysia under an obligation to prevent her deportation to Thailand.

The news of the deportation comes days after three Thai activists of the same anti-monarchy organisation went missing in Laos, where they had gone into self-exile.

Vietnamese authorities later confirmed they had detained the three activists as they attempted to cross the border, allegedly using fake passports. They were deported to Thailand, where officials have refused to confirm if they remain in custody.

Five other Thai anti-monarchy activists have been abducted in Laos since 2016, three of whose mutilated bodies were found in the Mekong river in December.

According to Article 112 of the Thai penal code, acts of lese-majeste, including insults, defamation or threats against the king, the queen, the crown prince or regent, are punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.