We are very concerned by the rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing, including a 35-year jail term handed down last Friday against one individual. A Thai military court found Wichai Thepwong guilty of posting 10 photos, videos and comments on Facebook deemed defamatory of the royal family. He was sentenced to 70 years in jail, but the sentence was reduced to 35 years after he confessed to the charges.
A military court has handed a 35-year jail term to a man accused of creating a copycat Facebook profile and posting lèse majesté messages on it to take revenge on his friend. The previous longest sentence for lèse majesté was 30 years (reduced from 60) which was passed on Phongsak S. on 7 August 2015 by the Bangkok Military Court for comments he posted on Facebook.
The Supreme Court has handed a two years and six months jail term to an elderly anti-establishment red shirt accused of defaming the monarchy by uploading lèse majesté audio clips. On 9 June 2017, the Supreme Court confirmed the Appeal Court verdict, sentencing Chaleaw J., a 58-year-old tailor from the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum, to five years’ imprisonment
Three years after the last coup d’état, human rights lawyers have argued that the junta could not hold power without the support of the country’s judicial institutions. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on 27 May 2017 released a report about the relationship between the military government and judicial institutions.
Note: On 29 April, a university professor was arrested as part of a sweep of six individuals accused of committing lèse majesté by posting to Facebook. He has been denied bail, as most are in these cases. Last week, Yukti Mukdawijitra, an anthropology professor at Thammasat University went to visit him. What follows are his reflections on their conversation, which was first published in Thai in his usual blog column for Prachatai.—trans.
The authorities have reportedly spent 28.4 million baht on a computer programme that targets viewers of lèse majesté content. BBC Thai reported on 23 May 2017 that the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) spent the money to procure a social network data analysis programme.
An embattled anti-junta activist ‘Pai Dao Din’ has received a prestigious Gwangju Prize for Human Rights while attending a trial at a military court. On 22 May 2017, Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), was taken to the Military Court of Khon Kaen Province for attending a trial.
Human rights lawyers have condemned the arrest and detention of the four latest lèse majesté suspects, including a 14-year-old. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on 20 May 2017 issued a statement on the arrest of Chirayu, Rathathamanun, Akharaphong (surnames withheld due to privacy concerns), and a 14-year-old in Khon Kaen on 19 May. According to the police, the four were arrested for allegedly burning an arch erected in honour of the late King Bhumibol in Chonnabot District of Khon Kaen on 15 May.
The Criminal Court has refused to release on bail a human rights lawyer facing up to 50 years in prison for royal defamation and sedition. The Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Rd., Bangkok, on 11 May 2017, renewed the detention period for Prawet Praphanukul, a human rights lawyer accused of violating Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law and the sedition law.
The Army Cyber Centre (ACC) claims to have taken down 435 websites committing lèse majesté since October last year, when King Bhumibol passed away.