Thailand: Web Developer’s 13 Year Prison Sentence Another Setback for Freedom of Expression

London 16.03.11: Red shirt-affiliated website administrator Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul has been sentenced by a Thai court to 13 years in prison for posting content offending the royal family. ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the mounting clampdown on freedom of expression in Thailand, especially on the internet.

“This case is another example of Thai authorities limiting public debate using lèse-majesté as pretence. The sentence is highly disproportionate and will create a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Thailand. The growing trend to censor expression, especially on the internet, is setting back the democratic progress Thailand has made over the last decade,” says Dr Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul, 38, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment under the lèse-majesté law (Article 112 of the Penal Code) and another three years under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act (CCA). He was charged by the Technological Crimes Suppression Division (TCSD) for posting offensive messages between 13 to 15 March last year and being the administrator of the Nor Por Chor USA website (www.norporchorusa.com). Since his arrest on 1 April 2010, Thanthawut has been detained without bail.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the court decision will set a precedent for making web administrators liable for comments posted on their websites. In a separate case currently under trial, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the editor of the news website, Prachatai, has been charged under these provisions for anti-monarchy comments made on the site by anonymous visitors.

ARTICLE 19 is also concerned about the CCA requirement that all internet service providers collect internet traffic information about their users’ activities, which was used as evidence in this case. This is a violation of both the Thai Constitution and international law protecting personal life and data.

Since the CCA was adopted in 2007, ARTICLE 19 has argued that it severely undermines the right to freely provide and receive information on the internet, and contradicts Thailand’s domestic and international freedom of expression obligations. In particular, the provisions in Articles 14-16, which criminalise the publishing of information on public computers, are vague and over-broad, and allow for subjective interpretation by state officials. Furthermore, the lèse-majesté law which provides special protection for the royalty is in breach of international guarantees of freedom of expression, which require public figures to tolerate more, rather than less, criticism.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Thai Criminal Court to reverse this ruling, and urges the Thai government to repeal the lèse-majesté law and limit the CCA to only crimes that affect systems or networks such as illegal access to computer systems, causing harm to the computer network by releasing viruses or conducting denial of service attacks, and preventing fraud.

Comments

ARTICLE 19 is deeply

ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the mounting clampdown on freedom of expression in Thailand, especially on the internet.

Yes, and so are the rest of us concerned about "the mounting clampdown on freedom of expression in Thailand"... but what about Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul and his son, Darunee Charnchoensilpakul and her brother, Khun Angkhana and her family, what about all the individuals and families in Thailand crushed, ground under the fascist boot heel of the brutal 'elite' regime?

Must they rot and die in prison, must their families be heartbroken and debilitated by their persecution and loss?

Is there no effective way to strike back against fascism run wild in Thailand?

There is! Vote them out in June! Vote out the brutal Democrat, Bhumijaithai, and Chart Thai Pattana 'elite'!

Vote them out, make sure that Puea Thai - or some other party willing to serve the people - pledges to free ALL political prisoners, especially those imprisoned for lèse majesté/lèse régime, and to repeal the laws used by Thai regimes to crush and silence their opposition.

Mr JFL wrote ....."Vote them

Mr JFL wrote ....."Vote them out, make sure that ***** ****- or some other party willing to serve the people"

This sentence is just so laughable it simply isn't funny.....Are you insane ? ***** **** as TRT before them can serve no-one but there own vested interests.

And please don't play the 'I'm a sucker for human rights card'.....Taksin's death squads trumped you on that one a long time ago. Lest we forget.

Can't even bring yourself to

Can't even bring yourself to type the Dreaded Name. Serious aversion there, Mr ah... Gland. Puea Thai do seem to be just another collection of self-centered politicians, not even loyal to The Great Satan himself as his understudy, Newin, demonstrated so amply.

The difference is that theirs will not be the last government elected in Thailand.

The election 'penciled in' for June-July has not yet taken place, and will not if the military follows the advice of their appointed Election Commissioner, Sodsri Sattyadharm. In the event that it does take place it may be a very irregular election indeed, with her (self-fulfilling, no doubt) prophecies of 'violence' that will 'necessitate' closing down unspecified constituencies.

At the time of the red shirts' protests for elections and the reinstatement of the Thai Constitution it occurred to me that they were the only Thais standing between the evermore authoritarian government still in power and some semblance of democracy. With the last few 'amendments' to the military charter, and who knows what more draconian measures if The Present Regime were reelected, the Puea Thai party is probably now in the same position the red shirts were a year ago : the thin red line between authoritarian autocracy and the return to elections and democracy to Thailand.

And I'm quite sure that, although that piece of intelligence may be lost upon you, Mr Gland... can I call you Guilty?, moves such as this latest outrage, the subject of this thread, are literally hammering that point home everyday to a majority of Thais.

Some note-worthy points

Some note-worthy points raised Fanny, if I'm not being overly familiar, and I must say that I too am outraged at the overly punitive sentence on a webmaster who, in my eyes, has not committed any crime but yet again I think you are overstretching the mark considerably because 'a majority of Thais' couldn't give a monkey's cuss about this case or Madame Torpedo and her ilk.

The majority of Thais are spending more time working out which tit will proffer the most 'milk' come June.

PT ( I don't think they really credit ten of my typo gestures and to liken them to the onset of pre-menstrual madness somehow sits nicely in my mind, especially given their chosen colour of choice to match!) have been ranting on about the need for elections since the coup d'etat and now one is put on the table they turn their noses up at the prospect saying the dish is either laced with poisonous additives or too sickly after Democrats' recent efforts to sweeten the deal.

@ Guilt Gland: Gawd, Thaksin

@ Guilt Gland:

Gawd, Thaksin was Satan - yet another 5-micron view of Thai politics.

Terrific.

At least he was elected by the people - in proper elections… lest we forgot.