According to reports in several media, including the Bangkok Post, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that it is “appalled” by the mammoth jail terms meted out to the victims of the draconian lese majeste law under the military dictatorship.
It has “urged Thailand to amend the ‘vague and broad’ statute to bring it in line with international standards.”
International standards would require that this ridiculous and cruel law be abolished.
U.N. spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani “decried the ‘shockingly disproportionate prison terms handed down over the past few months in lese-majeste cases’.”
This refers to several recent sentences that have been for 30, 56 and 60 years, each reduced by half after the defendants confessed. They confess under tremendous pressure and threats by the authorities.
The U.N. spokesperson observed that these “are the heaviest sentences we have recorded since 2006, when we began documenting cases of individuals prosecuted for lese majeste offences for exercising the right to freedom of expression…”.
The U.N. comes up with a different number of cases than in recent reports, stating that since the “May 2014 military coup, at least 40 individuals have either been convicted or remain in pre-trial detention for lese majeste offences, both under Section 112 and under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act…”.
PPT has a much higher number recorded.
The U.N. states:
We are also alarmed at the spike in harsh prison terms delivered in such cases by the military courts, which themselves fail to meet international human rights standards, including the right to a fair trial. Observers have been barred from entry and in many instances there is no option for appeal….
International law requires that trials of civilians by military courts should be exceptional, and military trials must afford all due process guarantees provided for under international human rights law….
The U.N. goes on to make demands:
We call for the immediate release of all those who have been jailed or held in prolonged pre-trial detention for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression. We also urge the military government to amend the vague and broad lese majeste law to bring it in line with international human rights standards….
It adds that the law is “used arbitrarily to curb debate on critical issues of public interest…”.