Every lawyer in the world must be shock by the news about the arrest without bail of the 8 victims who were charged of a computer crime against the national security for drawing a caricature of the Prime Minister and posted online.
The violation of article 116 of the Criminal Act stipulates the intention to protect the chaos or rebel in the state. The true intention of the 8 victims according to the statement made to police officers was to make joke and look down on how the Prime Minister and the government fail to take care of the country. The intention does not fall any close to the crime against the national security.
Most lawyers must have heard the proverb of the ancient Roman, "Inter arma silent leges," which means 'among weapons, laws have no voice.' Or basically, with the gun in the head, the law is shut up. This statement demonstrates that the use of gun powder to replace laws is not new. Especially during the lack of democracy and time of anarchy, there is no guarantee of freedom. Mimicry through caricature happens throughout history and has never been charge crime. In fact, the current Prime Minister once mimic the former prime minister about her "making speech without looking up from her notes." The mimicking statement was also meant to make joke and look down on her inability and was not a crime. On a contrary, when he himself was mimicked by the similar nature of action, it becomes a crime against the national security.
The Prime Minister mentioned he does not like those who open the door for international criticism. He forgot the fact that the world community holds a non interference virtue unless there is a severe human rights violation. It is inevitable for the humanitarian intervention to be imposed. Therefore, the fact that now the international community sees the need to intervene, it means that Thailand is apparently violating the international norm of the basic human rights.
Let me ask the question again, in this case, who was the one who actually opened door for international criticism and is deserved to be condemned? The mentioned caricature charge that was turned into a crime against the national security to be trail on the military court is clearing violating article 10 of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights and article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Both are the international commitments Thailand has long adhered to and shall comply. Before getting mad at the international criticism, please be aware of the person who actually opens this door by introducing the charge at the first place.
About the author: Watana Muangsook is a former member of the parliament from Pheu Thai Party. As one of the most vocal junta critics, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) repeatedly detained him for the so-called attitude adjustment session, detention with lecture forced upon political dissidents by the junta, which often includes ill treatments.