Reporting lese majeste

8 10 2015

An AFP report that has been widely circulated, including in Thailand, announced a few days ago that the 2015 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize for journalists working in difficult conditions in Asia has been awarded to Thai journalist Mutita Chuachang.

Mutita works for Prachatai and reports on lese majeste cases.

She is said to have been awarded the prize for “her powerful and persistent reporting of royal defamation cases that have multiplied under the country’s military rulers.”

Because Thailand’s lese majeste law is so powerful and the judicial processes so biased against defendants, most “Thai journalists and media outlets prefer to avoid the associated risks of reporting” anything other than puff and fluff on the monarchy. Self censorship is widespread and journalists who do accurately report on lese majeste and the monarchy are threatened.

The report states that “Mutita refuses to allow cases to go unnoticed or unrecorded, pestering the courts for trial dates and documents to give publicity to cases that are otherwise easily buried.”

Andrea Giorgetta of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) states: “She has been on the front line in the fight for freedom of expression in Thailand by persistently reporting on lese-majeste cases…”.

Her reporting is an important chronicle of the political, draconian and feudal law that pulls Thailand apart.