Major political parties weigh in on whether to amend Thailand’s lèse majesté law

Photo via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

With an uptick of charges over the past year under Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté law, which carries an up to 15 year prison sentence for insulting the monarchy, and protests calling on officials to abolish it, political parties have been voicing their opinions on the law, including the main opposition Pheu Thai Party which made a statement saying they were not necessarily against the law. The founder of the political party and former PM Thaksin Shinawatra was even reported saying there was no problem with the law.

Under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, those who insult, defame, or threaten the royal family will face three to 15 years in prison. Over the past year, Thai officials have increased the use of the law, with most cases related to the youth-led pro-democracy movements. Demonstrators have raised issues considered taboo and unprecedented in Thai society. Some statements have been seen as a violation of the lèse majesté law, leading to the arrest of a number of protesters. Many activists are now calling on officials to abolish the law.

With the law in question, the Bangkok Post published quotes from leaders of the major political parties in Thailand on whether Section 112 should be amended.

The Pheu Thai clarified that the party is not leading a campaign to rewrite the law. The Post quoted Pheu Thai Party leader Cholnan Srikaew saying…

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“The enforcement of the (lèse majesté) law erodes the rights and freedoms of people and breeds prisoners of conscience who hold different political views… Pheu Thai is not at the centre of a mass petition campaign or push for a rewrite of Section 112. Rather, we’re the middle person liaising with all sides to have the issue discussed in parliament.

The secretary general of the Move Forward Party, Chaithawat Tulathon, was quoted saying the party had proposed amendments to the law earlier this year,

“It’s high time the authorities return the right to bail for suspects in Section 112 cases… The Move Forward Party hopes that if and when its draft bill (amending Section 112) enters parliament, it will be supported by other political parties.”

Palang Pracharath Party leader and deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon reiterated the party’s support for the Thai monarchy and, according to the Post, said the party will never support any move to change the lèse majesté law.

Leader of the Bhumjaithai party, Anutin Charnvirakul, who also serves as the deputy PM and Public Health Minister, said Section 112 must be “left untouched” and that “the party will not have any part in changing the law.”

The leader of the Democrat Party, Jurin Laksanawisit, said Section 112 is “fitting for this country.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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