Amnesty condemns Thai junta over media censorship

Amnesty International urged the Thai junta to remove censorships over media and stop the prosecutions of people of the press in the name of national security.

On Sunday, Amnesty International issued a public statement to the Thai junta on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which is on 3 May of every year.

The statement pointed out that since the imposition of the martial law on 20 May 2014 and the subsequent coup d’état, the junta maintains tight control over media, claiming that it is necessary for national security.

Although the martial law is now lifted, the military government still repeatedly prosecute people of the press and media outlets, who are allegedly presenting informations deemed as inciting conflicts, divisive, and distorting of facts, Amnesty concluded.

Amnesty international illustrated the repression of media in Thailand with the case of Somyos Pruksakasemsuk, a former editor of Voice of Thaksin Magazine, who was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, lese majeste law. He was denied bail 16 times.

Moreover, there is a case of Alan Morison and Chitima Sidasathian, an editor and a journalist of Phuketwan News, who were sued by the Thai Royal Navy for publishing a news article about human trafficking which the Thai navy was allegedly involved, Amnesty added.

On last Friday, the Thai authorities issued an order to shut down immediately Peace TV, a TV station affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), a red-shirt group.

The blackout order issued to Peace TV stated that the station violated the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcements Nos. 97/2014 and 103/2014.

Announcement No. 97/2014 of the NCPO stipulates that every media outlet is prohibited from criticising the coup-makers and presenting information which contravenes the junta’s measures to maintain national security.

However according to Announcement No. 103/2014, which was issued to amend certain clauses of Announcement 97/2014, ‘honest’ and ‘constructive’ criticism of the junta is allowed, but any information discrediting the coup-makers is still prohibited and people who violate the announcement will be investigated.