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Activists pressure opposition to do away with royal defamation law

Thai activists are pressuring the opposition Pheu Thai Party to do away with the royal defamation law if elected to office this year. The requests come at a time when three demonstrators are seriously ill after going on a hunger strike over the royal defamation law.

Two of the activists are currently in the hospital and listed in serious condition. Pheu Thai Secretary-General Prasert Jantararuangtong says he encourages public discussion of how Section 112 of the Criminal Code is being enforced.

“There are many opinions and polarised views in society on the amendment of this law, which could lead to more conflict.”

According to Bangkok Post, his statement aligns with fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has continued to influence the country’s biggest opposition party.

Thaksin has previously alluded to the lese majeste law not being the root of the problem, but rather its interpretation and enforcement.

Section 112 of the Criminal Code states that anyone can file a complaint of lese majeste, with the police being obligated to investigate it. Those who are found guilty of defaming the monarchy face prison terms of up to 15 years for each perceived royal insult.

Judges often refuse to grant bail for those charged with the crime, citing the seriousness of the charge.

Last week, a Chiang Rai activist was sentenced to 28 years in prison on multiple royal defamation charges. Yesterday, Thai police summoned a 14 year old girl for questioning after an ultra-royalist accused her of royal defamation, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

Arnon Klinkaew, a core member of an ultra-royalist group, accused the child of violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code over her alleged involvement in a protest at the Giant Swing in Bangkok on October 13, 2022.

The legal summons from Samran Rat Police Station in Bangkok was dated January 23, 2023. She is the youngest person ever to be charged with royal defamation.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.