Speech : The use of the lese-majeste law in Thailand
The use of the lèse-majesté law in Thailand
In response to media enquiries about recent expressions of concerns by some quarters regarding the use of the lèse-majesté law in Thailand, Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Director-General of the Department of Information and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded as follows:
The lèse-majesté law is part of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which also contains general provisions on defamation and libel of private individuals. The law gives protection to the rights or reputations of the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent in a similar way libel law does for commoners. It is not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression nor the legitimate exercise of academic freedom including debates about the monarchy as an institution.
As in other democratic societies, Thai people enjoy their constitutional rights, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression. Differing views are aired widely and there is vibrant debate on all aspects of life. However, those who abuse their rights by spreading hate speeches or distorted information to incite violence and hatred among Thais as well as towards the monarchical institution in contravention to the law – whether through the internet, on-line social networks, communication device or otherwise – have to be held accountable in accordance with the law.
The legal proceedings against Mr. Amphon Tangnoppakul and Mr. Lerpong Wichaikhammat (Joe Gordon) were carried out in accordance with Thai law. Both men have been accorded due process as provided by the Thai Criminal Procedures Code including the right to fair trial, due opportunity to contest the charges and assistance from their lawyer. They are also entitled to the right to appeal.