Youngest ever royal defamation charge: Thai girl, 16, released on bail
A 16 year old girl from Phitsanulok, Thailand, has been granted bail after being charged with royal defamation, making her the youngest individual ever charged under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). The alleged offence occurred when the girl, known only as “May”, was 14 years and one month old.
Police investigators claim that May used Facebook on November 18, 2020, to post comments considered insulting to His Majesty the King. Naengnoi Asavakittikorn, a member of a cyberbullying support group, discovered the messages and reported them to the police. May was summoned for questioning on June 4, 2021, initially as a witness, as formal charges had not yet been filed.
Following her questioning, May reported feeling extremely distressed and observed plainclothes police officers near her home and school. She eventually left school and moved to Bangkok. This week, May and her parents travelled from Bangkok to respond to another summons at the Phitsanulok Provincial Police station, where she denied all allegations. Later that day, she appeared in Phitsanulok Juvenile and Family Court, where the police sought her detention but did not object to bail. The court granted bail, and May was released on a surety of 20,000 baht provided by her parents, reported Bangkok Post.
TLHR states that May is the 19th juvenile accused under Section 112 since 2020. Four of them were under 15 years old when the alleged offences occurred, and 15 were aged between 15 and 18.
In a high-profile case, a Bangkok teenager identified as Thanalop or “Yok” recently marked her 50th day in detention at a juvenile facility in Nakhon Pathom. The Central Juvenile and Family Court issued a statement last week addressing criticism of her detention, explaining that the girl’s mother had not appeared for her bail, resulting in her prolonged stay at the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Girls.
Yok’s charges led to a violent protest at the Samran Rat police station on May 10, where demonstrators vandalised the premises and clashed with police, resulting in nine arrests. Seven men and two women appeared in court on charges including damaging public property and were subsequently released on bail.
As of April 30 this year, TLHR data indicates that 1,902 individuals have been prosecuted for political involvement and expression since the Free Youth pro-democracy protests began in July 2020. Of these, at least 242 are facing lese-majeste charges, and 130 have been accused of sedition.
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