Is reforming the lese majeste law enough?

2 04 2011

Prachatai has a story on an academic meeting on reforming the lese majeste law.

A group of Thammasat law lecturers have “proposed a set of amendments to Article 112 of the Criminal Code in a public forum which drew an audience of hundreds.”

The group argued that the lese majeste law has many (well known) shortcoming. The group argues that Article 112 should be abolished because “the article is illegitimate in the first place as it originated from an order of the junta which seized power in 1976 – the Council for Democratic Reform’s order No 41 announced on 21 Oct 1976.”

PPT agrees. However, we are less convinced that this abolition should be followed by “new provisions to be written for the protection of the monarchy and placed in another section of the law instead of the current one which relates to national security.”

They argue for much reduced sentences and fines. They also suggest that a new law would “exempt from punishment those who made bona fide criticisms or comments for the benefit of the constitution and ‘Democracy with the King as Head of State under the Constitution’, or for academic or public interest, and for those whose statements could be proved to be true and beneficial to the public interest.”

Finally, they “proposed that the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary be the sole party to file any complaints on lèse majesté offences to prevent the law from being politically abused.”

Why all of this? Essentially lese majeste is a law that represses. Let the royals use the same defamation laws as everyone else.

Following this meeting, a group launched an awareness campaign to get people thinking about the law and its consequences. Prachatai has the story and some excellent photos.


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