People to rally again for abolition of lèse majesté law

Starting on 31 October, civil society will seek people's signatures to support the deletion of the royal defamation law from the Thai Criminal Code.

The Citizens for the Abolition of 112 organize a press briefing. 

On 24 October, Citizens for the Abolition of 112, a group composed of political activists, held a press briefing in front of the Supreme Court.

Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, an activist from Thammasat University, said the group aimed to abolish Section 112 of the Criminal Code, generally amend the laws regarding defamation and slander, and abolish prison sentences for defamation.

"On Sunday 31 October 2021, I ask everyone to gather at Ratchaprasong intersection. The activity will run from 16.00 to 21.00. If we succeed in gathering signatures this time, what will happen is that the Section 112 will be abolished. The defamation law system will be completely amended, with only fines instead of prison sentences.

"This is the mission that all Thai people must carry out together," said Panussaya.

The group stated that at least 151 people have been charged with Section 112 between November 2020 and 19 October 2021 for their actions and online statements. Parit Chiwarak leads with at least 21 charges. If found guilty on all charges and given the maximum sentence, Parit will go to jail for 315 years.

"The existence of Section 112 is like a threat to the rights and liberties of the people, because this law has a high penalty but can be interpreted broadly to limit freedom of expression.

"Because the law also has no provisions to protect the expression of opinion, like honest criticism or comments for the public good, the expression of opinion, speeches, and even dress at protests or helping to support the organization of protests can all become for a reason for a Section 112 charge.

"Including Section 112 in the Chapter on state security [of the Criminal Code] distorts the judicial system. ... It makes the authorities choose to limit their role in protecting the rights of suspects such as the right to bail and the right to an open and fair trial," reads the statement.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 1,458 people are now facing charges for participating in pro-democracy protests between July 2020 and September 2021. Of this number, at least 145 people are facing royal defamation charges under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. At least 111 people are facing sedition charges under Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code, while at least 1,171 people are facing charges for violating the Emergency Decree.

TLHR also said that, as of 14 October, 23 people are currently in detention for participating in protests: Parit Chiwarak, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Anon Nampa, Huad, Thawee Thiangwiset, Chitipat, Chakri, Panupong Jadnok, Nat, Nawapol Tonngam, Wachirawit Limthanawong, Pawaris Yaemying, Paitoon, Suksan, Naruebet, Pichai, Jittakorn, Tha, Sith, Thu, Benja Apan, Kachen, and Kajornsak.

Source: 
prachatai.com/journal/2021/10/95617

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