Disregarding NGO warnings, government reinforces campaign against lese majeste

first_img Receive email alerts August 12, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Disregarding NGO warnings, government reinforces campaign against lese majeste News ThailandAsia – Pacific to go further Follow the news on Thailand Organisation RSF_en June 12, 2020 Find out more Covid-19 emergency laws spell disaster for press freedom Newscenter_img August 21, 2020 Find out more Red alert for green journalism – 10 environmental reporters killed in five years Thai premier, UN rapporteurs asked to prevent journalists being returned to Myanmar News May 12, 2021 Find out more Help by sharing this information Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the recent creation of a police taskforce within the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) to monitor websites and identify those posting content that violates Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law.“Under the pretext of defending the monarchy’s rights and prerogatives, politicians are using the charge of lese majeste to further their own interests,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We condemn this restriction of online free expression and we urge the government to reverse its decision to create this taskforce.”Police Lt. Gen. Somdej Khaokham, the head of the head of the new Information Technology taskforce, said on 9 August that the government had urged the police to strictly enforce the lese majeste law against offenders. Somdej said the new IT taskforce included webmasters and computer-literate personnel. The authorities have for several years been constantly updated equipment in order to track down those who post content regarded as offensive towards the monarchy.All of the world’s constitutional monarchies, except Japan, have laws that protect the royal family. But Thailand has the harshest. Anyone deemed to have insulted a member of the royal family can be sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison under article 112 of the criminal code concerning national security violations.The annual number of lese majeste prosecutions has increased by 1,000 per cent since the mid-1960s while the average jail sentence has more than doubled. And nowadays the law is used to censor thousands of websites.Meanwhile, under a Computer Crime Act that took effect in 2007, the individual records of Internet users must be kept by Internet Service Providers for 90 days and can be examined by the authorities without referring to a judge. Internet regulation has been a priority for the government that was formed after Abhisit Vejjajiva took office as Prime Minister on 20 December 2008. Around 4,000 websites were blocked for “content insulting the monarchy” with the first month of its installation.The new information technology minister, Ranongruk Suwanchawee, allocated 80 million bahts (1.7 million euros) to the creation of an online filtering system called the “War Room.” The freedom of the 14 million Thais who go online every day is now seriously under threat. As criticising the king is regarded as a national security violation, any Thai citizen can ask the police to investigate someone they suspect of doing this.King Bhumibol, who has reigned since 1946, said in his annual address on 5 December 2005: “In reality, I am not above criticism. I do not fear criticism if it concerns what I do wrong. It is thanks to this that I will be able to realise my mistakes. If you say the king cannot be criticised, it means the king is not a man.”Reporters Without Borders reiterates the appeal it made to the prime minister in April to overhaul the lese majeste legislation. ThailandAsia – Pacific Newslast_img read more

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