Lawlessness and the king

15 11 2014

Royalists regularly claim that the lese majeste law is required because the king and others covered by the draconian law are “unable to defend themselves” under the law. Other monarchies under constitutional regimes seem not to have this problem, so that observers know the claim is specious.

In fact, lese majeste, while a law, is used to justify lawlessness in matters to do with the king and monarchy. This has become even more noticeable following the May 2014 coup.

Repeatedly denying bail requests is common for lese majeste cases, and there have been repeated refusals to apply constitutional provisions – when there has been a constitution – to lese majeste cases. Many lese majeste cases are dealt with by judges who blatantly ignore the law.

When military courts become involved, the situation deteriorates to legal farce. This was amply demonstrated on Thursday when a military court ruled that yet another lese majeste case would be heard in camera.

Despite the presence of UN officials and representatives of human rights organizations, “lawyers are not allowed to copy trial reports to ‘maintain public morals’ and may be reprimanded for questions about civil rights and the credibility of the military courts.”

In the case reported, Sirapop (or Rung Sila) stands accused of poems on his personal blog and Facebook that allegedly violate Article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act.

The military court heard the military prosecutor propose that the trial be conducted in camera “because the case involves material defaming … the King.” Despite objections from defense lawyer Arnon Nampa, the military court decided on a secret trial to protect “public morals.”

In the secret court, the defendant, held since 25 June without bail, “denied all allegations…”.

Remarkably, when the defense lawyer “asked for a copy of the hearing report … the court did not allow this, reasoning that the case is serious and involves the important institution of the nation.” It means the monarchy.

At the same time, the “military court warned the defence lawyer to amend a petition within seven days because the petition contains ‘defamation against the junta and the military court’.” This refers to a challenge to the “independence and credibility of the military court and also urges the military court to consult the Constitutional Court for a ruling on whether the following issues breach … the 2014 Interim Charter…”.

The article in question states “that the freedom, rights and liberty of the Thai people must be respected and agreements with international agencies must be upheld.”

The effect is that when the monarchy is involved there is no law and human rights are trampled and thrown aside as meaningless.


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