If you asked me if the decision by a military prosecutor to drop the lèse majesté charge against renowned historian and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa is good news, I’d say, ‘yes it’s good that the old man does not have to spend time in jail’. But if you asked me if this is a good sign for the state of freedom of expression in Thailand, I’d say ‘no, it’s not.’
All charges were dropped Wednesday morning against Sulak Sivaraksa, renowned social critic and historian, who questioned whether an ancient story of a Thai king’s elephant battle was apocryphal. Sulak walked out of a military courtroom just before 10am after charges of royal defamation and computer crimes were dropped three years after he publicly suggested a story involving 17th century King Naresuan didn’t actually happen. Read more at
The anti-election monk has urged the police to stop harassing his disciples after the authorities visited his temple to investigate the lèse majesté allegation against him. On 9 January 2018, Suvit Theerathammo, abbot of Wat Or Noi temple, and his lawyer visited the police’s Crimes Suppression Division to ask information about the lèse majesté lawsuit that he is facing. The monk claimed that many police officers have come to his temple and questioned his disciples about Suvit’s personal information.
A court in the Deep South has sentenced a blind woman to one year and six months in prison for royal defamation. On 4 January 2018, the Provincial Court of Yala sentenced Nuruhayati Masoe, a 23-year-old who is blind, to three years in prison for violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law. She was accused of royal defamation for sharing an article by Giles Ji Ungpakorn, an academic and political activist who fled from Thailand to the UK in 2009 after he was charged with lèse majesté.
Apart from the problem of interpreting the legal meaning of the term ‘defame’ in Article 112, the other problematic term is ‘heir-apparent’. This has been a delicate issue for many years. Documents that will confirm this issue in fighting a case be used for the defense are extremely difficult to access. What is strange is that this is still the case even when we have entered the reign of King Rama X. Prachatai has compiled lèse majesté cases that deal with the status of Crown Princess Sirindhorn.
The authorities have repeatedly denied access to a legal document which deals with the question of whether Princess Sirindhorn was an heir apparent to the throne of King Bhumibol, saying that the document could damage the monarchy if published. On 12 December 2017, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the Office of the Council of State (OCS) had denied their lawye
Five teenagers and one adult facing royal defamation charges for burning royal arches in northeastern Thailand have pleaded guilty. On 20 November 2017, the Provincial Court of Phon District in Khon Kaen Province held a preliminary hearing for six suspects indicted for violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, criminal association, and destruction of public property, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).
A student activist convicted of lèse majesté has revealed that prison staff ordered him to take off his clothes and rubbed his genitals five times in a search for drugs. On 16 November 2017, Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, also known as Pai Dao Din, was summoned to Phu Khiao Provincial Court to be tried for violating the 2016 Referendum Act. Jatupat and another student activist, Wasin Prommanee, were accused of inciting chaos during the junta-sponsored constitutional referendum in August 2016.
After being imprisoned for three years and four months, a military court once again postponed a witness hearing for a poet accused of royal defamation. On 15 November 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok postponed the trial for Sirapop (surname withheld for privacy concerns), 53, once again as a witness failed to appear to the court. According to Anon Nampa, human rights lawyer representing the defendant, since he was arrested in June 2014, the court completed only one witness hearing in the case out of 6-7 plaintiff witnesses.
A provincial court has handed down jail terms of two and a half years to 2 suspects accused of royal defamation for attempting to burn a royal arch. On 15 November 2017, the Provincial Court of Phon District in Khon Kaen Province sentenced Nuphin, 64, and Chatchai, 25, (surnames withheld due to privacy concerns) each to five years imprisonment, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).