A recent history of lese majeste

20 10 2022

Readers may be interested in an article by Sulakshana Lamubol of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights for the Southeast Asia Globe. The article is something of a history of recent Article 112 cases.

It observes that “Thailand has the harshest royal defamation laws in the world, which punishes offenders with three to 15 years imprisonment.” Add to this the fact that an individual may face several charges and the result is sometimes mammoth sentences.

The recent use of Article 112 has become ever more politicized: “Since the military coup in 2006, lèse-majesté has become a perfect political tool for the authorities, as well as ultraconservative citizens, to silence those who criticise the government, the role of the monarchy, or even this law itself.”

The result is that, since 2020, “at least 215 individuals – including 17 minors – in 234 cases, have been charged and/or prosecuted with the law.” 10 individuals have been found guilty of this political crime since 2020.

TLHR explains “that the court’s judgments establish dangerous precedents for the country’s freedom of speech and assembly amidst heavy calls from the people demanding historic political changes.”

Sulakshana concludes: “The more the Thai state uses royal defamation to suppress the people’s freedom of speech to maintain ‘reverence,’ the result will be the opposite. Respect and faith of one’s public institution must be earned from the people — not forced.”



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