At least 25 lèse-majesté prisoners still behind bars, says TLHR

On Friday (23 August), Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that, as of August 2019, there are at least 25 people still imprisoned throughout the country on charges under Article 112 in cases related to freedom of expression. This number does not include those charged under Article 112 in cases related to fraud or personal interest. The following infographic shows the list of Article 112 prisoners, their sentences, and current status. 

 

TLHR observed that there has been a change in using Article 112. Since the beginning of 2018, the use of Article 112 has become less frequent, so there are very few recent cases of people charged under Article 112. However, other charges, such as charges under the Computer Crimes Act or sedition charges under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, are still used to restrict freedom of expression. 

TLHR noted that among the important cases in 2019 are those relating to the Thai Federation movement. The defendants in all of these cases were accused under Article 116 and of forming a secret society. So far, at least 19 people have been prosecuted, and 2 people have been detained while fighting their case since they have no assets to use in requesting bail. TLHR considers these cases another instance of imprisonment in cases relating to political expression, even though the defendants are not charged under Article 112. 

The TLHR report also said that, during the NCPO era, there have been several Article 112 cases in which the defendants were temporarily released while their cases are being considered. However, their cases are still ongoing, as the military courts take a long time. These cases have recently been transferred to the civilian court after Head of NCPO Order No. 9/2019 was issued.