Junta leader urges people to keep an eye on lèse majesté suspects

The junta leader has urged people to report lèse majesté cases and warned that he will use legal measures against lèse majesté and anti-junta political dissent. Meanwhile, the Justice Minister stepped up lèse majesté searches overseas.  
 
Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, on Friday urged people via the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) programme, to keep an eye on people posting lèse majesté content on social media and said that the government will crackdown on lèse majesté and anti-junta political dissent without mercy.
 
“In cases related to the monarchy [lèse majesté] and politics, please use careful consideration. If the cases are clear, they can’t be tolerated and will face legal measures. Everyone should cooperate to reduce hate and must help keep a lookout. The government has no intention of intervening in your privacy. But all should keep watch on each other not to distribute inappropriate things [lèse majesté and anti-junta content],” said the junta leader. 
 
On 5 February, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, the junta’s Justice Minister, revealed that the committee which has been appointed to hunt down lèse majesté suspects will submit a list of 40 lèse majesté  suspects in exile to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cooperate with other countries in extraditing the suspects.
 
“Currently, I have been informed of about 40 people who are wanted under warrants and have moved overseas. From now on, the committee and the Foreign Ministry will compile information and clarify to the host countries about extraditing these suspects,” said Paiboon.
 
On 17 December 2014, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, told the media that the Thai authorities are trying to cooperate with other countries to hunt down lèse majesté suspects in exile, one of whom is Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a Thammasat University political historian, who went into self-imposed exile shortly after the coup d’état in May.
 
The period since the 2014 coup d’état has seen the highest number of lèse majesté prisoners in Thai history, according to iLaw, an Internet-based rights advocacy group. 
 
Coup makers since the 1976 coup d’état have regularly cited a surge of lèse majesté as a justification for overthrowing an elected government. The 2006 coup, when lèse majesté was cited as one of the major reasons, marked a surge in lèse majesté cases. The atrocities in April-May 2010, where almost 100 people were killed during the military crackdown on anti-establishment red-shirt protesters, also contributed to a dramatic rise in lèse majesté cases, especially offences committed online.