Article 112 imposes jail terms for those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Persons found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years for each count.
Thailand: UN committee slams abuse of lèse-majesté laws
Thailand Rules Lese Majeste Law Constitutional, Extends Crackdown on Free Expression
The constitutional court’s ruling was based on petitions submitted to the Criminal Court by two individuals—Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Ekachai Hongkangwan—who were charged under Article 112. Prueksakasemsuk has been in detention since April 2011 after publishing two articles about lese majeste. Hongkangwan, a vendor, was released on bail after arrested for selling CD’s containing content that ‘violated’ the lese majeste law.
“Convicting and imprisoning ordinary citizens for expressing their opinions, even if deemed insulting to the royal family, does less for promoting national unity than for instilling fear and self-censorship among the population,” said Courtney Radsch, senior program manager for the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign at Freedom House.
Thailand is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2012, and Not Free in Freedom of the Net 2012. Fines and imprisonment for defamation and criticism of the government are often used to silence government critics. The end of 2011 saw an increase in repressive practices through a new online monitoring agency and the expanded use of lèse-majesté laws. In December 2011, U.S. citizen Joe Gordon was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for posting a link on his website to a book that was critical of the monarchy. In May 2012, Ampon Tangnoppakul, known as “Uncle SMS,” died while serving a 20-year prison sentence after he was convicted for sending text messages “offending the Thai royal family.” Tangnoppakul denied all charges against him, claiming he did not even know how to send a text message. The same month, webmaster Chiranuch (Jiew) Premchaiporn was handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence and forced to pay a fine for comments posted by visitors on her online forum.-Freedom House, 12/10/2012