Amnesty International Annual Report still concerned with Freedom of Expression, Prisoners of Conscience in Thailand

Bangkok, May 23 -- Ongoing suppression of freedom of expression, little accountability for the 2010 political violence and the internal armed conflict in the Deep South are the main human rights concerns for Thailand in the 2013 Amnesty International Annual Report.

Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, Director of Amnesty International Thailand, said at the report launch at the Royal Benja Hotel that the use of the lèse majesté law, as Article 112 of the Criminal Code is known, and the Computer Crime Act is depriving the people's right to speak. The Constitutional Court ruling that the lèse majesté law was constitutional and parliament’s refusal to consider a revised draft bill failed to make any improvement to the situation.

Amnesty International Thailand calls on the Thai government to reform Article 112, especially with regard to the ability for anyone to file complaints and the disproportionately severe penalties. 
It also continues to call for the unconditional release of Prisoners of Conscience convicted of lèse majesté, she said.  Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a magazine editor who was sentenced to 11 years in January this year, is the only person officially designated by AI as a Prisoner of Conscience in Thailand.
According to the Asian Legal Resource Centre, a regional human rights organization based in Hong Kong, six persons convicted of lèse majesté are currently serving prison terms and one more is behind bars awaiting trial. The annual human rights report of the U.S. State Department suggested that up to 18 persons may be currently imprisoned under the lèse majesté law. 
“I am asking you to think whether in everyday life, we are able to express our opinions which are different from others and not fear that the person we are talking to would go to the police and sue us for lèse majesté?” asked Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, Somyot’s wife, who was invited to speak on freedom of expression at the report launch. 

Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk
“Are we able to say that our partners are red shirts? That we admire the Thaksinomics way of running the economy? That we do not like to stand for a long time to receive members of the royal family because it is too hot? Or what if we are too lazy to stand up for the royal anthem played in the cinema? The worst is that we are not able to write and question the love and faith that are existing,” Sukanya said.
“This shows that Thai society is lacking a free flow of information. It is presented with only one-sided information and is judgmental of others, especially with violence when logic and reasoning do not function anymore,” she said. “We could no longer call ourselves a civilized society.” 


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