Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Thailand 8 February 2006

Farmer gets suspended prison sentence for operating community radio

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at the suspended sentence of four months in prison and fine of 40,000 baht (840 euros) imposed yesterday by a court in the province of Ang Thong on Sathien Chanthorn, the former operator of Angthong Community Radio Learning Station (FM 106.25), after he was found guilty under a 1955 telecommunications law of broadcasting without a licence and illegal possession of radio equipment.

"This verdict violates the Thai constitution and poses a serious threat to the country’s thousands of community radio operators," the press freedom organisation said. "We voice our full solidarity with Chanthorn and all the community radios that do a remarkable job by letting ordinary people speak on the air, and we call on the Thai courts to recognize Chanthorn’s constitutional right to run a community radio."

The authorities shut down several FM and community radio stations last year but this is the first time that an operator has been convicted for broadcasting programmes.

"I do not understand what I am guilty of," Chanthorn told his judges. "I followed the orders of the public relations department. What’s more, I even received financial assistance from a government social investment fund. If I am guilty, what will happen to other community radio stations?"

A 56-year-old farmer, Chanthorn pointed out to the court that article 40 of the 1997 constitution encourages the creation of community radios with the aim of promoting more media diversity. His lawyer argued that article 40 supersedes the 1955 law under which he was convicted. Chanthorn plans to appeal.

The police raided Chanthorn’s radio station and confiscated his broadcast equipment on 30 October 2002, while the public relations department (which is closely linked to the prime minister’s office) ordered its closure on the grounds that it was violating the 1955 law.

Chanthorn had started the radio station the previous July in Baan Bornam. It functioned without commercial advertising and expressed some criticism of the local authorities. After his equipment was confiscated, Chanthorn started another community radio.

After today’s trial, Chanthorn accused the authorities of banning community radio stations from carrying reports about anti-government demonstrations called by journalist Sondhi Limthongkul.




In this country
20 May - Thailand
Internet censorship to be followed by censorship of radio and TV
29 April - Thailand
Reporters Without Borders and 31 other organisations urge Thai government to amend lese majeste law
27 April - Thaïland
Censorship lifted on some websites
3 April - Thaïland
Internet user gets ten years in jail for posting content that “defamed” monarchy
3 March - Thailand
Leading Swiss TV reporter arrested, then forbidden to leave country

in the annual report
Thailand - Annual report 2008
Thailand - Annual report 2007
Thailand - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised