The content in this page ("Thailand's Freedom of Expression During 2012-2013: New Prosecutions, Laws, Policies, Directives and Verdicts" by iLaw) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Thailand's Freedom of Expression During 2012-2013: New Prosecutions, Laws, Policies, Directives and Verdicts

At present, Thailand’s right to freedom of expression is subjected to numerous regulations. It should be noted that all of the applicable laws to regulate freedom of expression in Thailand have been drafted and enacted by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) installed after the 19 September 2006 military coup.
 
The implications of all those laws were felt most acute during 2012-2013. Many politically motivated cases have reached the Court during these two years. And the verdicts delivered have set new precedent and reinterpreted the laws as far as the right to freedom of expression is concerned.
 
The Freedom of Expression Documentation Center, iLaw, has compiled information regarding hindrances to access to media, news consumption and freedom of expression in Thailand covering both traditional media including press, film, broadcasting media and electronic media which has been increasingly used by citizen groups as both distributors and recipients of the information. We keep monitoring people’s participation in various forms as well.
 
Based on the information compiled, the Freedom of Expression Documentation Center has produced a report card of the situation of freedom of expression exploring any obstacles and infringements on the right to freedom of expression, reviewing new Court verdicts, monitoring ongoing litigations and new draft laws, directives, policies from January 2012 to April 2013.
 
[Excerpt]
 

Obstacles and infringements to the right to freedom of expression

Various grounds related to social morality, defamation of the royaltiesnational security, and social unity are mainly invoked to curb and breach the right to freedom of expression. In detail, interesting facts can be described as follows;

  • Citizen At least three new prosecutions on lèse majesté law and two new cases on defamation law have been documented as an attempt to curb the expression of opinions in public.
  • Press No print press has been banned invoking the 2007 Print Act during this time. But at least 15 cases have been laid against newspapers accusing them for committing libelous acts. Most legal actions have stemmed from damage of personal reputation. New libel cases have been launched against reporters, columnists and editors in 2012 working for Siam Dara, Matichon, Siam Sports Daily, Pim Thai, Thai Rath, Post Today, and Daily News. And the litigants against Thailand’s press in 2012 include celebrities, business persons, football clubs, private companies, state enterprises, civil servants, military officers and Constitutional Court Judges.
  • Film Two films have been banned and censored including “Shakespeare Must Die” banned by the Film and Video Act B.E. 2551 (2008) on ground that the film might have caused social schisms. The second film, “Boundary”, was initially banned, but after the deletion of certain scenes, it was given permission to be screened.
  • Television At least three programs were banned by the management of the stations. One program was fined by National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) , another suspended and being investigated. Grounds of the interventions including that the programs’ contents were in breach of good morality of society, deemed a contempt to religion, and defamatory to the King.
  • Internet Blocking of access to more than 20,000 URLs have been initiated invoking the Computer related Crime Act B.E. 2550 (2008). 80% of them were deemed defamatory to the King and the rest 20% deemed pornographic. 1 URL was deemed blasphemy.

Banning and censorship is just one benchmark to gauge the infringement on the right to freedom of expression. Various other forms of violations have been employed, particularly self-censorship which is an emerging crisis of media.

See full report with cases and updates in detail here.