Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Thailand 31 December 2008

New government plans to step up online censorship

Read in Thai

Reporters Without Borders is more concerned than ever about the Internet’s future in Thailand after yesterday’s announcement that access to more than 2,300 websites was blocked in 2008, in most cases for lese-majeste (insulting the king), and the new information minister’s pledge to make it her priority to block such online content.

“By trying to protect the king’s image, the government is actually doing it harm and in some cases the charge of lese-majeste has been entirely inappropriate and unjustified,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Australian author Harry Nicolaides was arrested exactly four months ago today and has been held in a Bangkok jail ever since on a lese-majeste charge for writing just two lines about a close relative of the king without even naming him. We reiterate our call for his release.”

Three days being appointed as minister of information and communications technology, Ranongrak Suwanchawee said on 29 December that blocking websites with lese-majeste content would be the ministry’s main task. She also said that her predecessor in the post was “mistaken in believing that little could be done to control sites originating overseas.”

Two days before that, members of the Democrat Party-led government called for the lese-majeste legislation to be made tougher, while the army’s commander in chief, Gen. Anupong Paojinda, told his officers to make sure there were no attacks on the king. Speaking to more than 800 battalion commanders, he urged each battalion to monitor one to two websites for negative content about the monarchy.

Nicolaides, who is from Melbourne, was arrested on 31 August as he was about to board a flight back to Australia. He used to teach at Mae Fah Luang university in the northern city of Chiang Rai and wrote for magazines and websites. His four requests for provisional release have all been rejected.

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

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

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