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Amnesty International condemns “shocking” 87-year sentence for lèse majesté offences

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Patipat Janthong / Thai News Pix via Reuters

Amnesty International has roundly denounced Thailand’s sentencing of a 65 year old woman to 87 years’ imprisonment for the offence of lèse majesté and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. Nation Thailand reports that the sentencing has also been condemned by Human Rights Watch, who described it as, “a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated but that they will also be severely punished”.

Former civil servant Anchan Preelert was sentenced by the Bangkok criminal court yesterday, with the prison term halved as a result of her guilty plea. She is accused of sharing audio clips that are considered insulting to Thailand’s Monarchy. The country’s lèse majesté law is widely seen as one of the harshest in the world, but yesterday’s ruling still constitutes a new record.

Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Yamini Mishra says it illustrates the government’s determination to shut down opposition voices and goes against international human rights law.

“The fast-rising number of individuals facing charges and being detained under the lèse majesté law demonstrates the Thai authorities’ relentless drive to silence dissent. Today’s extreme sentence is a case in point and shows why this law is inconsistent with international human rights law. Defamation should never incur a criminal conviction in the first place, let alone an extremely long jail sentence like today’s.”

Amnesty International says that, by signing up to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Thailand has given an undertaking to protect freedom of expression. The UN Human Rights Committee, which is responsible for interpreting the ICCPR, has decried yesterday’s sentencing, saying ““imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty” for lèse majesté offences.

Since anti-government protests kicked off in July 2020, over 220 people, including minors, have been charged for their alleged role in peaceful protests. Dozens have been charged with sedition or lèse majesté offences. Amnesty International says Thailand must amend legislation that goes against the right to freedom of expression.

“The Thai authorities must halt their crackdown on peaceful dissent. The government must repeal or significantly revise legislation which gags freedom of expression both on- and offline, such as the lèse majesté offence and the Computer Crime Act used in today’s verdict.”

Anchan was arrested in January 2015 and held in a military camp for 5 days. She was then transferred to prison, where she was repeatedly denied bail until November 2018. She was charged with 29 offences under the Computer Crimes Act and Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lèse majesté law. Her sentence is a result of consecutive 3-year sentences for each of the offences.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Pedro

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    If you look on Facebook where this story has been shared hundreds of times, 99.9% of comments are critical or insulting of Thailand, the Thai Government and the Monarchy over this sentencing. Let’s see if the PM really does care about the people and the reputation of the country, but will not hold my breath. I hope that HM The King shows his concern and pardons this lady and all the others being sentenced in his name.

    • Avatar

      Jean-Pierre

      Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 4:01 pm

      Pedro, I think that the PM cares only about the internal reputation of the country … i.e. among other influential and wealthy Thais.
      It is a bit like in TheTaiger’s article and video about the “party with no guests showing up” : the design of their concept is turned upside down, and they work like an echo in a cathedral, inside to inside.

      • Avatar

        World observer, no party

        Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:46 am

        I would add. You give too much credit to the international western power. Thailand is asia with more than 1 billion Chinese. Today, western power is not so strong. As long as China doesn’t say a word, everything is ok. You point of view make you think Western word are blessed.

  2. Avatar

    Pedro

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    The whole world is condemning Thailand, which is so sad for such a wonderful country with great people, but who appear to be led by tyrants. Come on PM, prove the world wrong and show some leadership in this by stopping the use of this law.

  3. Avatar

    harry1

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    hard to believe a 63 year old woman gets life imprisonment for sharing a face book posting and made no comment, yet a billionaire who killed a cop has been exonerated so far and hasnt face justice

    • Avatar

      Slugger

      Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 3:47 pm

      Get it right. They just havent been able to get him.

      As for this, if she knew the law, she asked for it.

      • Avatar

        London Al

        Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 4:40 pm

        That doesn’t make it right

      • Avatar

        Pedro

        Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 5:08 pm

        Slugger, I am wondering if you are actually related to the PM because you steadfastly defend the Government, even when its actions are indefensible ))). I work in Law Enforcement world-wide so I am all for people adhering to the law, but in return, the law and punishment has got to be fair for the citizens. After all, it is their country too. Section 112 is draconian. It belongs to a different era and has no place in the 21st Century, and whilst I respect the Monarchy, this kind of law only serves to weaken it, not make it stronger. In other countries, Monarchies are strong because they are not enforced through this kind of law. Thailand could learn a lot from other countries on this one.

      • Avatar

        Jean-Pierre

        Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 5:34 pm

        Slugger, like says B.T. below about “Boss”, they are not trying hard…

        Now, saying “As for this, if she knew the law, she asked for it.” for some one jailed 87 years for a rather mild “lèse majesté” is an incredible lack of empathy for saying the least.
        Yes, a sanction would have been “legal”, community service, a fine, etc, but 87 years for facebook stuff and not even an assassination attempt ? Your comment is disgraceful.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 8:32 pm

          Sorry, Jean-Pierre, but under the law a sanction would NOT have been “legal” and wasn’t an option.

          The minimum sentence on each offence is three years, so she was given the minimum sentence under the law.

          She was charged with 29 different offences because she quoted / repeated different parts of a YouTube video 29 times on Facebook, resulting in a total sentence of 43 and a half years (29 x 3 years, halved because she pled guilty).

          Meanwhile the original YouTube vlogger she quoted was charged with one offence, under the Computer Crimes Act (not S 112) and given a five year sentence, halved to two and a half years as he pled guilty, and he’s already been released.

          There’s no room for “empathy” under the law as S 112 stands, nor does the PM have any constitutional right to unilaterally suspend the law (although obviously he could start the process).

          I’m not defending the law in any way and clearly it’s being applied inconsistently and being abused, but nevertheless it is the law and its up to the Thai government to change it and so far no Thai government, elected or self- appointed, has shown any interest in doing so.

          Maybe this will spark that interest.

          • Avatar

            Jean-Pierre

            Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:09 pm

            Thanks Issan John for the detailed explanations.
            This system of adding the jail times rather than taking the largest one is indeed alien to my culture, and I find this simply barbaric.
            Well… I have then even more respect for the Thais who dare trying something different/new, it is like lying on a track hoping that the train can slam the emergency brakes …

          • Avatar

            Patrick

            Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 1:46 pm

            Only a certain kind of people can respond so cold blooded and understanding while ignoring the obvious idiocy of the combination of law, penalties, the criminal act and this specific sentence.

  4. Avatar

    B.T.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    @Slugger :get it right>They just don’t want to get him.

  5. Avatar

    gosport

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    She got what she wanted. Congrats

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 9:41 pm

      Quite possibly, since once she pled guilty the court had no option.

  6. Avatar

    Fakenews

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    I thought the sentence was reduced to 43 years

  7. Avatar

    Ian

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    This sentance as yet again shown the world what a corrupt out of touch with its people it is ,this law is barbaric and should live in the past this is 2021 for God sake not 0021 thailand you ate so losongvthe people that love you each day that goes by so so sad

  8. Avatar

    Stardust

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Slugger and Issan john are the the criminal gangsters who should be in the jail. Just read these rubbish this foolish 2 rubbish are writing. This mafia parasites wanna Thai people as a slave for their own benefits and corruptions. Shame on these parasites!

  9. Avatar

    Stardust

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    Slugger and Issan John are really big loosers because they not understand the truth will always win and thats a universal law!

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 10:28 am

      While you may not like it, what I’m saying is “the truth”, Stardust.

  10. Avatar

    Gordon J.

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 12:53 am

    Under Prayut and his ilk, Thailand is a country we will no longer visit.

    That makes me very sad as my wife and I have traveled to the country more than 30 times over the last 20 years. We won’t be back.

    There are too many other countries that do not perpetrate enormous human rights violations to ever want to spend our money in Thailand again. We’re already looking at a six-month trip to Spain next year once the Covid hysteria has ended, instead of the 6-9 months we had planned on spending in Thailand.

    Spain is a country with people just as lovely as the Thais, with loads of sea, sand and sun and where human rights, for the most part, are not massively violated.

    Thailand used to be a wonderful country but, with Prayut, the permanent destruction of what always made Thailand an amazing place to visit is complete.

    Sad to say we will never set foot in the country again.

  11. Avatar

    Cultural Observer

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:53 am

    The Lese Majeste law is simply a way to suppress and control the population and make people subservient to the oligarchy (the one percent) that controls the country. It is simply a tool to maintain the quasi-feudal nature of Thai society.

    • Avatar

      maxcorrigan

      Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 10:14 am

      I have posted this before, the King and his father before him have both stated they do not want this law used, it’s the government ignoring this request for their own purpose of controlling dissent against them, pathetic!

      • Avatar

        Andr

        Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 3:02 am

        Maybe the german should step up and say that he want the law removed then? If h don’t it is just a play for the gallery.

  12. Avatar

    Stardust

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Low entities like slugger and Issan John are scared like hell of the truth and want to keep people as slaves. But it shows very well who are the criminals!

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Stardust, instead of talking utter nonsense why not show anything I’ve said which isn’t not only “the truth” but the complete truth with no interpretation and without “economy”.

      I’m not defending S 112 in any way, far from it, simply explaining why the court sentence was as it was and why the court had no option since that was the minimum sentence they could impose under the law – adding some details to the background to the offence which some evidently found useful and informative.

      Maybe you could also explain how anything I’ve said could possibly be interpreted as supporting S 112 in any way and that I “want to keep people as slaves” when the polar opposite is all too obviously the case …..

      ….. or maybe not.

  13. Avatar

    Ian

    Friday, January 22, 2021 at 2:37 am

    Issan john and his few followers also disrespect thier birth country on a daily basis he deserves all he gets shame on you and so sad for the lovely issan that homes you but maybe in a year your visa is declined then you come back to the uk tail between your legs your pittance of wealth left in Thailand but hey the British will take care of you give you a old people’s home and benefits even after all the shit you say against them ,England has many faults but it us like Europe and America the land of the free and free speech

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