Amnesty International Speaks … Finally!

14 01 2010

AFP (13 January 2010) reports that Amnesty International has belatedly made a comment on lese majeste in Thailand. PPT has been highly critical of AI’s long, long silence on lese majeste (see here for a recent example).

AI now states that “Thailand must halt a ‘backward slide’ on freedom of expression after a sharp rise in cases of people accused of insulting the revered monarchy…”. Better late than never? In fact, this PPT blog was established a year ago because the new Democrat Party-led coalition government made it clear that the use of lese majeste was an important political means for it to limit freedom of thought and speech. AI seems to have been unable to see this until now.

AI “said it welcomed a panel established by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in December to scrutinise the enforcement of Thailand’s tough lese majeste laws…”. It added: “the government should suspend the use of the law until it has scrapped provisions allowing any citizen to report another for alleged violations, and urged Thai authorities to stop censoring websites.” So AI is supporting a revision of the lese majeste law rather than its abolition.

In fact, AI makes a point of its continued support of the government on this issue: “Amnesty International supports the prime minister’s new initiative, and encourages the Royal Thai government to amend the lese majeste law so that it complies with international law and standards…”.

AI has also finally noticed that the Computer Crimes Act is being used in place of lese majeste and claims to be “concerned that the law had been characterised by the government as a matter of national security, allowing cases to be held behind closed doors.

Why the group believes that Thailand has made “considerable progress” in human rights under the present king is anyone’s guess and probably reflects only the politics of getting the AI chapter in Thailand, which is apparently dominated by royalists and yellow shirts, to make any comment on lese majeste.

The article notes how late AI is in joining other rights groups in noting the political use of lese majeste and computer crime laws.

All this is old news. The only new item is that AI has finally made a statement that it could have made a year ago. AI needs to explain why it has taken so long to make these very obvious points. But we won’t expect that as they have been entirely opaque on how the debate has been handled within their own organization, internationally and in Thailand.

Read the entire AI statement here: 13 January 2010, “Thailand: Reverse Backward Slide in Freedom of Expression”



3 responses

17 04 2010
Protest via Amnesty International USA « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] earlier commentary on AI and Thailand see here, here, here, here, here, here and here. It is a long and sorry […]

27 02 2011
Optimism on LM is not justified when human rights are not protected | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the monarchy through”understanding” the need for  lese majeste repression and even issued a comment praising Abhisit for establishing a committee that has been used to process and expand the impact of lese majeste […]

1 03 2011
More lese majeste arrests planned | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] majeste repression appears to be deepening under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, making a mockery of Amnesty International’s position. We seriously doubt that AI can ever do the right thing and oppose lese majeste as a political […]

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