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Thailand downplays UN criticism over imposing Lèse Majesté law

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Thailand downplays UN criticism over imposing Lèse Majesté law | The Thaiger
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Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokesman has played down the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ criticisms over the kingdom’s enforcement of the Lese Majeste law, which has seen the arrests and detentions of pro-democracy activists, including a 16 year old minor.

Tanee Sangrat, a ministry spokesman, says the law is not aimed at curbing freedom of expression for the nation’s people, nor the exercise of debate or academic freedom over the monarchy as an institution.

Tanee says the precedent of the law existing in many countries to protect the dignity of royal families is being observed under the Criminal Code in Thailand, along with libel laws for any Thai citizen.

He says that where these charges are handed down, they are done so in accordance with due process, and that many cases have received a royal pardon. In regards to the recent move to charge a 16 year old student, he says the case was denied a request for detention by the Juvenile Court and instead, the minor was granted conditional bail instead.

“Once again, it bears repeating that in the past couple of months, protesters have not been arrested solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Those arrested had violated other Thai laws and the majority have already been released.”

But the UN Human Rights Body Committee isn’t taking the bait.

“We are deeply troubled by the move by Thai authorities to charge at least 35 protesters in recent weeks, including a 16-year old student protester, under Article 112 — the lese majeste provision of Thailand’s criminal code.”

The law is unlike others as any Thai citizen, no matter what country they reside in, and at any time, can bring a case of lese majeste against any other individual, Thai or foreign. It does not have the governing body serving as a monitor like other criminal cases do, as they are typically brought to court by government prosecutors.

Now, due to the current political instability in Thailand, it is clear that the law is being imposed upon many as a way to silence protesters. Before PM Prayut took power in the 2014 coup, the law was rarely enforced. But after the coup, and up until now, at least 98 lese majeste charges have been filed, according to Thai watchdog iLaw.

Human rights groups say many of those cases were used to persecute opponents to the military government, an allegation that the military-backed government has denied.

The Thai monarchy is protected by Section 112 of the country’s Penal Code, which says whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent shall be punished with imprisonment of three to 15 years. Such a law has been present since the 1900’s when Thailand was known as Siam.

However, Prayut announced last June that the law was suspendedunder instructions of the new Thai sovereign. But, the protests continued along with arrests under the law.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike Frenchie

    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Charging children for demonstrating is not popular in the UN… (neither in any Western countries). This was unnecessary and image damaging for a country hoping to be the next Singapore. Cops should be trained to understand that…

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Exactly, it’s counter-productive for the authorities whichever side of the fence you’re on.

      The decision to charge anyone, though, isn’t taken by the “Cops” but by the Attorney General’s Office (previously the Public prosecutor)

    • Avatar

      John Smith

      Monday, December 21, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      The Les Majesty Law is as obsolete and outdated as the Thai monarchy. How can a country truly state that this Law is just when a person walks around in a halter neck top and gives titles to dogs and a harem of women.

  2. Avatar

    GION

    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    In no democratic country in the world that has a king or queen is a rule that a person who criticizes the king (s) publicly is arrested and brought to justice. Publicly expressing one’s opinion and criticism is a human right

  3. Avatar

    向日葵

    Monday, December 21, 2020 at 6:10 am

    The law is a purely political tool to suppress any criticism and get rid of political opponents. Thailand will be a great nation once the old generation moves on. Getting rid of Les Majeste and having real anti-trust laws that are enforced are just a couple of things that would really help the nation as a whole.

  4. Avatar

    Singharacha

    Monday, December 21, 2020 at 7:25 am

    United Nations High Commission for Human Rights counts as members some countries like :

    Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela…

    Many of these countries apply Sharriah and it’s horrible.

    And these are the countries that allow themselves to judge “human rights” in Thailand? It’s making fun of the world.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, December 21, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      I have to confess to working for the UN for a while (one of the reasons why I’m not “penniless” 🙂 ), and while it can do good, particularly through some organisations, the idea that it’s in a position to pass judgement on human rights and similar issues is absurd; we had observers monitoring and reporting on “free and fair” elections whose own countries had never had “free and fair” elections not just in the observers’ lifetimes but ever in their countries’ history.

    • Avatar

      preesy chepuce

      Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      Countries aren’t monoliths, they contain people at both extremes and moderates, educated, and idiotic. It is specious to suggest that a person of a particular nationality can’t believe something different from their government. Moreover, it isn’t “countries” that judge other countries, it’s people comparing the actions of other people against a written framework of how things are globally agreed should best be done. Let’s not forget that.

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Thailand’s PM asks people to avoid political gatherings over concerns for their health

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Thailand’s PM asks people to avoid political gatherings over concerns for their health | The Thaiger

Thailand’s PM is asking people to avoid political gatherings over concerns for their health due to the recent cooler weather. As the country is still not out of the woods with the recent Covid-19 breakout, the cold weather, in the northern half of the country, is adding to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s health concerns for Thai people.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri says the situation still warrants the government’s role to exercise its power under the emergency decree and Communicable Disease Act to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

He says all gatherings should be avoided, but is emphasising political ones and is thanking the “majority who have cooperated.” Now, he says the government is set to introduce more measures to help those affected by the new round of Covid and are preparing new economic stimulus programs.

Anucha says another high pressure system from China will cover northern Thailand starting from today and lasting through January 19. The system would see temperatures drop by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius in the northern and central areas of Thailand with the northeastern area seeing a drop of 4 to 6 degrees. PM Prayut has also asked people to be careful when setting up bonfires to keep warm during the cold spell.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Student arrested in dormitory at night, charged with lèse majesté offences

Maya Taylor

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Student arrested in dormitory at night, charged with lèse majesté offences | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TLHR Twitter / Lawyer Center for Human Rights

A student at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus has been arrested and charged with violating Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law. Ironically, it was his calls for the law to be abolished that led to Sirichai Natueng, aka, “New”, being charged. The group, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, has confirmed the student’s arrest on its Twitter page.

After being taken into custody, the pro-democracy activist was driven to Khlong Luang police station, in the central province of Pathum Thani, just outside Bangkok. Other anti-government activists, including Parit Chiwarak, aka, “Penguin”, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul (“Rung”) followed, accompanied by representatives from TLHR.

Since the arrest, the hashtags #saveนิวมธ (Save New) and #ยกเลิกม112 (Cancel Section 112) have been trending on Twitter. Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code is the law governing lèse majesté, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Sirichai, a member of the pro-democracy group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, has been charged with 2 lèse majesté offences. He is accused of defacing an image of the Monarchy, as well as the Rangsit campus sign, with graffiti calling for the abolition of the lèse majesté law.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

Leaders of German Embassy rally meet with police, prosecutors

Maya Taylor

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Leaders of German Embassy rally meet with police, prosecutors | The Thaiger
PHOTO: iLaw

13 political activists who led thousands of protesters to the German Embassy in Bangkok last October have met with police and prosecutors in the capital. They face charges of violating section 112 of the Criminal Code for the October 26 rally at the embassy. The aim of the gathering was to submit a petition calling on the German government to ascertain if His Majesty the King was conducting state business from Germany. Section 112 of the Criminal Code is also known as the lèse majesté law, which prohibits criticism or defamation of the Monarchy. Violators could face up to 15 years in prison.

During yesterday’s meeting at Thung Maha Mek police station, officers were on duty in front of the station, to bolster security, while others in plain clothes photographed those who’d turned up in a show of solidarity with the 13 activists. The rally at the German Embassy was organised by the pro-democracy group, Khana Ratsadorn. The group’s leaders face multiple other charges in addition to lèse majesté.

One protest leaders, named as Atthapol Buaphat, aka, “”Khru Yai”, says the group is waiting to see if prosecutors press ahead with charges. He says they have provided additional handwritten evidence to police and asked officers to question more witnesses. Another leader, Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, says she just received a summons issued 2 months after an October 14 rally. She adds that the resurgence in Covid-19 means pro-democracy activists are pausing their political action but vows that it will resume again at some point.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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