17 activists have received summonses to hear lèse majesté charges during the past week, since Parit Chiwarak received a summons on 24 November. The law has not been used in the past two years.
17 activists summoned on Section 112 charges during the past week
After the recent wave of student protests started demanding monarchy reform, beginning with Anon Nampa’s speech at the Harry Potter-themed protest on 3 August and the 10-point manifesto of the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration read by student activist Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul at the rally on 10 August, rumours began to spread that the lèse majesté law, or Section 112, would once again be used after no charges had been filed under this law since 2018. However, during the past four months of protest, no activist who criticized King Vajiralongkorn or the monarchy has been charged with Section 112, although some have faced sedition charges under Section 116 and other charges relating to the protests.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said in their report “As if the NCPO Never Left: Six Years After the Coup and the Persistence of Human Rights Violations” that despite the decline in the number of cases filed and prosecuted under Section 112 since the outset of King Vajiralongkorn’s reign, critics of the monarchy still faced legal prosecution under other laws, such as the Computer Crimes Act and Section 116. TLHR also noted that Section 112 charges were being increasingly dismissed, while defendants are convicted on other charges.
However, on 24 November, student activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak received a summons on charges under Section 112 and the Computer Crimes Act. Other activists then began receiving similar summonses, and by Saturday (5 December), a total of 17 people had been summoned.
Several people have also been summoned on multiple counts. Parit is facing 5 counts, Panusaya 3 counts, while Anon and student activists Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon and Chanin Wongri face 2 counts each.
Other activists facing charges under Section 112 are Panupong Jadnok, Patiwat Saraiyaem, Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, Jutatip Sirikhan, Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, Kiattichai Tangpornphan, Watcharakorn Chaikaew, Benja Apan, Ravisara Eksgool, Cholathit Chotsawat, Nawat Liangwattana, and Shinawat Chankrachang.
In addition to charges under Section 112, most of these activists face other charges relating to the protests, such as sedition charges under Section 116, or violation of the Emergency Decree.
Earlier today (7 December), activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk posted on his Facebook page that he has also received a summons under Section 112.
During the past 10 years, the use of Section 112 to silence critics of the monarchy has been widely criticized. Various international organizations, including the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms, have previously said that the law itself is vague, excessive, and goes against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In 2011, for example, Frank La Rue, then the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that both Section 112 and the Computer Crimes Act are “are vague and overly broad, and the harsh criminal sanctions are neither necessary nor proportionate to protect the monarchy or national security.”