IFEX on Darunee’s lese majeste sentence

30 08 2009

The International Freedom of Expression eXchange has an article on the 18 year sentence given to Darunee Charnchoensilpakul.

Unfortunately, the article carries misleading information when it states: “The law implicitly allows academic discussions on the role of the monarchy in society.” This is simply not true, at least under the current government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democrat Party. This is seen in the case of academic Ji Ungpakorn. Additionally, academic discussions of the monarchy have been remarkably limited and publications self-censored, banned and prevented from circulating.

The article also states that the Thai Criminal Code, “bans any malicious remark against the King, the Queen, the heirs and the Regent.” This is also misleading. “Malice” usually has two meanings:(i) a desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another; and (ii) an intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse. Under the Thai law, the crime is assessed as applying to: “anyone who defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the crown prince or the regent” (Article 112 of the Thai penal code). This does not have to involve malice.

PPT is also not conviced by the IFEX linking of lese majeste as being “considered a security threat, [and] hence the prison term that can go up to 15 years.” The emphasis on “national security” has not been constant. However, to link national security and sentencing is wrong. The current government has made much of the national security angle.

It is certainly correct to observe that “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva … said he would look into the enforcement of this law to prevent any abuses. The problem is, and the IFEX report is sadly lacking on this, that he said this but did exactly nothing. He lied about the cases against Chiranuch Premchaiporn and Chotisak Onsoong, which despite Abhisit’s assurances, remain active.

PPT expects more of human rights defenders like IFEX.

As usual, Amnesty International Thailand continues its silence. Hopefully the international chapters will at least acknowledge Darunee’s sentencing as a gross violation of human rights.


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