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UN human right experts speak out against Thailand’s “severe” use of lèse majesté law

Caitlin Ashworth

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United Nations human rights experts are speaking out against Thailand’s “severe” use of the lèse majesté law, saying the law is used to “curtail criticism of the monarchy” and it has no place in a democratic country.

There has been an increase in the use of the lèse majesté law since the rise of the student-led pro-democracy movement last year. Recently, a woman was sentenced to more than 43 years in prison for insulting the royal family. UN human rights experts wrote in a news release that they are “alarmed” by the harsh punishment.

Last month, the Bangkok Criminal Court sentenced the 60 year old former public official to more than 4 decades in prison for violating the country’s draconian lèse majesté law. Anchan Preelert had posted audio clips on Facebook and YouTube of a man making comments that are considered to be critical of the Thai Monarchy.

The lèse majesté law carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. The former official was found guilty on 29 counts of violating Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, as well as violating the Computer Crime Act.

“We urge the appeal court to reconsider the case of Anchan Preelert in line with international human rights standards and set aside the harsh sentence.”

The Thai government briefly stopped charging people under the lèse majesté law in 2018. But with the rise of the pro-democracy movement and activists pushing for monarchy reform, police began to invoke the law. Since November, more than 40 young activists have been charged under the law for speaking out on taboo subjects since November, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. Some minors face charges under the law for exercising their freedom of expression, the human rights experts say.

“Their increasingly harsh application has had the effect of chilling freedom of expression and further restricting civic space and the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in Thailand.”

“We are profoundly disturbed by the reported rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions since late 2020 and the harsher prison sentences.”

SOURCES:UN News | Bangkok Post

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Stardust

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Thailand an Burma will come on the radar globaly, the world comunity an UN. Same will happen to China who not respect international laws.

  2. Avatar

    Ynwaps

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    The fact that lèse majesté law has become the word of 2021 is already proof of the failure of lèse majesté law.

    lèse majesté law has long turned into a joke for lèse majesté.

  3. Avatar

    Slugger

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    People only have to be respectful to avoid prosecution. Is that too much to ask?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Respect isn’t a human right anywhere, Slugger.

    • Avatar

      Alavan

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 5:31 pm

      49 years for this offense?
      How many (100) years would that be for murder? Or for driving with your Ferrari over a policeman?

      • Avatar

        Ian

        Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:14 am

        Respect is earned slugger not forced and thaiger you say it has no place in a democratic country Thailand is not a democratic country it’s a military run dictatorship

    • Avatar

      Pedro

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 6:37 pm

      No matter where in the world you are, without exception, respect is a two way street and has to be earned regardless of who or what you are. If you simply demand respect because you are a boss, you will never be given real respect but instead you will encourage the opposite. That is what is happening in Thailand right now. The Military Junta does not show respect to the people, but instead issues new threats against them on a daily basis. To the outside world looking in, it appears that the government is using the lèse majesté law to beat the people into submission, hence little respect being shown. Dictatorships are rarely respected.

    • Avatar

      Robert Elliot

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 10:29 pm

      Its not about respect. These charges are more about controlling dissent.

  4. Avatar

    Ynwaps

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    The us doesn’t respect international law either. Your point?

  5. Avatar

    Social Observer

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    The Thai monarchy is the richest in the entire world. That should tell you everything you need to know.

  6. Avatar

    Social Observer

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    The Army needs the Monarchy and vice-versa, to maintain a feudal society in Thailand for the benefit of the elites.

  7. Avatar

    luca

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    Thailand is a dictatorship, human rights and people’s freedom are of no interest to those in power, it is the next Chinese province and behaves according to the orders that come from beijing

  8. Avatar

    sam

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    UN Human Rights Experts have the tendency not to criticise USA for abuses all these years….Guantanamo Bay prisoners,not tried in courts and still in prison……Water-boarding practices to torture captives……

  9. Avatar

    Stardust

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Already the what aboutism. So some comenters say their neigbour did something bad and therefore he has the right to be a thief or murderer. What aboutism! And to put a old woman into jail for 43 years is respect? And arresting underage boys is respect? Slugger should not use the word respect because he doesn’t know what respect is!

  10. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    Words are cheap.
    Economic sanctions is the only method to deal with this sort of injustice.
    Plus ban Thai government members from western countries.
    They have already effectively banned westerners from Thailand.
    You think that is bizarre?
    Well in 2017 the US threatened visa sanctions on Cambodian government officials, and their families, if Cambodia did not take back Cambodian criminals.
    This would work just as well dealing with Thai government.

  11. Avatar

    Somchai_N

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Democracy is not a minority group of thugs funded by external parties running rampant thought Bangkok. Nor is it for the UN to dictate what is an appropriates set of laws for Thailand based on the noises of rabble of thugs who falsely claim to represent the majority. In a democracy such as Thailand, this minority movement should select a candidate in the next Thai election to present their ideas to people, and see how much, if any support, they really have. Only with a majority support of the Thais people can this movement or the UN claim legitimacy as to what constitutes appropriate laws for Thailand.

  12. Avatar

    Political Observer

    Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    The Army runs a protection racket for the benefit of the Oligarchy and the Monarchy.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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