London 14.03.11: ARTICLE 19 has submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council highlighting the Thai government’s restriction of the right to freedom of expression including emergency powers, the Computer Crime Act, defamation and lèse-majesté laws. The report also raises concerns over the lack of implementation of the Official Information Act, and the control of the media by the military and government.
For the past several years, the Thai government has tightened its grip on freedom of expression stifling political debates. The 2007 Thai Constitution provides strong protections for freedom of expression and information, however, the government often fails to respect those rights and its international obligations.
In 2010, the government used powers granted by an Emergency Decree to target journalists and shut down media channels. The law gives the government almost unchecked power to declare an emergency and restrict free expression for extended periods of time.
Censorship of free expression on the internet in Thailand is another major concern. The 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA) and other legislation, as well as informal pressure, are used to block tens of thousands of websites, many without any judicial authority. There has also been an increase in the use of the draconian lèse-majesté legislation (insulting the king or his family) and defamation charges, to intimidate and silence oppositional voices.
The legal and practical enforcement of the right to information remains weak, 13 years after the adoption of the Official Information Act (OIA) in 1997. Despite the new Constitution, the government and military still control nearly all the major national terrestrial television and radio networks.
ARTICLE 19 calls on the UN Human Rights Council to recommend the Thai government review all legislation affecting freedom of expression, comply with the 2007 Thai Constitution and international standards, and repeal or amend the laws accordingly.
ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech. For more information on ARTICLE 19 please visit www.article19.org or follow article19org on Twitter.