Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thailand: UN committee slams abuse of lèse-majesté laws, and Malaysia fights on against Sedition Act?

Malaysian government has and uses the draconian Sedition Act to suppress freedom of expression and opinion, and in Thailand the law that is used is  Article 112 of the Criminal Code.
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.
Like Malaysia, people who believe in democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and opinion and justice is struggling for repeal for such draconian legislation that can be used to stifle human rights defenders and those with a different opinion/view from that of the government.

In May last year, democratic government was ousted to by coup to be replaced by a 'military led government' - and the struggle for democracy is outgoing. 

Thailand was far more democratic than Malaysia. The people chose and elected in peoples' representatives at all levels including Local Councils, and even communities(kampung/taman/etc/...). 

The Opposition promised us Local Council Elections - but since then have abandoned this promise. They could also have had democratic elections at kampungs, kampung baru, tamans, kampung orang asli..., whereby there was no law preventing them doing this and allowing Malaysians to enjoy real democracy, but alas save for Perak who did this when ruled by the Opposition, none of the other Opposition-ruled States followed suit... Why was the Malaysian Opposition scared of the people - why were they against greater democracy for Malaysians? 

Thais have enjoyed democracy - and that is why they protest much more strongly against loss of democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedoms...and human rights...

23 June 2015

Thailand: UN committee slams abuse of lèse-majesté laws

Paris, 23 June 2015: Thailand should amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code (lèse-majesté), the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) said in its concluding observations released yesterday after its review of Thailand’s report on 4-5 June in Geneva.

The CESCR expressed concern over the “adverse effect of the excessive interpretation” of lèse-majesté on the enjoyment of the right of everyone to take part in cultural life. The committee recommended that Article 112 be amended with a view to ensure “clarity and unambiguity regarding the prohibited acts and that any sanctions are strictly proportionate to the harm caused.” [1]

The CESCR issued its recommendations amid ongoing restrictions on public debates related to lèse-majesté. On 15 June, Thailand’s military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), ordered the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) to cancel a panel discussion on Article 112 scheduled for 17 June in Bangkok. The order was issued a few days after the FCCT rejected a police request to cancel the event. The police claimed the panel discussion “would sow disunity in Thai society and encourage people to break the law and stir up unrest.”
“The abuse of Article 112 has become an international embarrassment for Thailand and it is damaging the image of the Thai monarchy,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “It’s time for Thailand to heed the numerous recommendations made by various UN human rights bodies to amend its lèse-majesté legislation,” he urged.

On the occasion of the CESCR’s review of Thailand’s report, FIDH released Dark Ages - Violations of cultural rights under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. The report documents how Thailand’s overzealous enforcement of Article 112 has resulted in the country’s failure to comply with its obligation to respect and protect the right of everyone to participate in cultural life. Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) guarantees this right.

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’s abuse of Article 112 has led to the imprisonment of several artists and writers. Thirteen of the 16 post-2014 coup lèse-majesté cases resulting in prison sentences presented elements related to the right to freedom of expression and to take part in cultural life. Thailand has also routinely banned books and other publications that provide a critical perspective on the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej and other members of the royal family. The atmosphere of fear created by these measures has resulted in widespread self-censorship. In addition, authorities have conducted a relentless and wide-ranging campaign to censor online content that is considered offensive to the monarchy.

[1CESCR, 55th session, Concluding observations on the combined initial and second periodic reports of Thailand, 19 June 2015, UN Doc. E/C.12/THA/CO/1-2, available at


Thailand Rules Lese Majeste Law Constitutional, Extends Crackdown on Free Expression

The decision by Thailand’s Constitutional Court to rule that Article 112 of the Criminal Code  - the ‘lese majeste law’ - is a devastating blow to freedom of expression and internet freedom in Thailand and contradicts the constitution’s mandate to protect human rights.   The Thai government has used Article 112 of the Criminal Code (Lèse Majesté) – which criminalizes defamation of the royal family – to curtail the space for diverse political opinions and freedom of expression online and offline.

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

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