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Thailand 29 April 2009

Reporters Without Borders and 31 other organisations urge Thai government to amend lese majeste law

“I posted a video of the king on the Internet,” Suwicha Thakor told Reporters Without Borders from behind a plexiglas screen in Bangkok’s Klong Prem prison on 20 April. “The police should have told me what I was doing was wrong. It is not right to be sentenced to 10 years in prison for this. I am not a problem for the country or its security. I am in prison for nothing.”

Suwicha was given the 10-year sentence on 3 April on a charge of lese majeste. Reporters Without Borders wrote to the king yesterday asking him to grant Suwicha a royal pardon.

Reporters Without Borders and 31 other human rights, press freedom and journalists organisations have issued a joint appeal to the Thai government for a revision of article 112 of the Thai criminal code on lese majeste.

Since a new government took over last December, the authorities have stepped up enforcement of the lese majeste law and the Internet has been one of the leading victims. Access to more than 50,000 websites is currently blocked because of content critical of the monarchy. Around ten people are being prosecuted (or have been prosecuted) for lese majeste and two of them have been convicted. The crime of lese majeste is punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

In their appeal, Reporters Without Borders and the other organisation say: “We see the current trend of multiple prosecutions for the same offences intended to stifle commentary, opinion and dissent.” The lese majeste law had not been used since 1991. Now not a day goes by without the People’s Alliance for Democracy, a member of the ruling coalition, trying to silence criticism in the name of respect for the king.

The appeal urges the authorities to “work with local free speech organisations for a moratorium on lese majeste prosecution so that a constructive dialogue can begin on the issue of Internet freedom.”

Add your name to this appeal !


Call to the Prime Minister to review the lese majeste law

We, human rights groups, journalists and the victims of arbitrary lese majeste prosecutions appeal to Thai authorities to review criminal code article 112 on national security offences, under which any defamatory, insulting or threatening comments about the king, queen, crown prince or regent is deemed to be a crime of lese majeste punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Access to more than 50,000 webpages has been blocked because of content critical of the monarchy, some 10 people are currently being prosecuted on lese majeste charges, at least two are in prison, and moreheld without bail.

This situation has gone unresolved far too long.

We call for the laws to be amended so that free expression does not fall victim to Thailand’s new security policies. We urge thai government to amend the lawS, especially as the king himself said in his annual address in 2005 that he was not “above criticism”: “If you say the king cannot be criticised, it means the king is not a man.”

We also ask the authorities to work with local free speech organisations for a moratorium on lese majeste prosecution so that a constructive dialogue can begin on the issue of Internet freedom.

We see the current trend of multiple prosecutions for the same offences intended to stifle commentary, opinion and dissent.

We call for:

-  the decriminalization of lese majeste law and the Computer-related Crime Act, which related to the principle of free expression.

-  review and reform of the criminal code statutes applied to lese majeste.

‐ A public awareness campaign to alert Internet users to the risks they are running if their posts are ever deemed to have attacked the monarchy as well as clear and accyrate information by government of as to citizens’ legal rights.

‐ publication of the blocklist of websites which have been closed down or blocked for lese majeste ans government’s precise reasons for doing so in order to build a transparent public policy.

‐ withdrawal of plans to incorporate lese majeste into amendments of the Computer Crimes Act 2007, with review and reform of the law to encourage freedom of expression, as required by the Thai constitution.




In this country
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Internet censorship to be followed by censorship of radio and TV
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
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21 February - Thailand
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in the annual report
Thailand - Annual report 2008
Thailand - Annual report 2007
Thailand - Annual report 2006

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