Regarding the statement issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights raising concerns over the move by Thai authorities to charge protesters with charges under Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, the l่se majesté law, Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri on 19 December 2020 gave clarification on the issue, as follows:
1. Thailand’s l่se majesté law is not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of expression or the legitimate exercise of academic freedom or debates about the monarchy as an institution. This law, in various forms, exists in many countries around the world and Thailand; it gives protection to the rights and reputations of the King, Queen, and the Heir-apparent, or the Regent, in a similar way that libel law does for any Thai citizen.
2. This has been the position in most cases having to do with the les่ majesté provision of Thailand’s Criminal Code. But in cases in which proceedings on l่se majesté are carried out, they are done so in accordance with due process, with many cases having received Royal pardons.
3. Regarding the recent move to charge a 16-year-old protestor under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the case was presented to the Juvenile Court. Furthermore, as the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights rightfully informed the press briefing today, this court denied the request for a detention order and granted conditional bail instead.
4. Once again, it bears repeating that in the past couple of months, protestors have not been arrested solely for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Those arrested had violated other Thai laws; however, the majority have been released.
Mr. Anucha also added that the Government has not prevented or blocked any freedom of speech, while it has upheld the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and peaceful protests and gatherings, which is a fundamental norm for a democratic system. However, the exercising of such rights must be done within the laws and should not violate or encroach upon the rights and freedoms of other citizens to the extent of affecting peacefulness in society or national security.
The Government supports freedom of expression that is constructive and beneficial for society, rather than defamatory or offensive remarks that convey hatred and violate the rights of other citizens. It also supports the constructive exchange of viewpoints, particularly the respect for differences of opinion.
Police officials have allowed peaceful gatherings and demonstrations, and have refrained from the use of force at all levels in order to maintain peacefulness and public safety at the protest venues. Charges levied against certain demonstrators have been issued in accordance with existing laws and without prejudice, while the accused have been able to defend their cases within the judicial system. The basic human rights of protestors who have been charged will be respected and upheld in accordance with Thailand’s Constitution and all relating laws, which are consistent with international standards and Thailand’s international obligations in the area of human rights.
Source: The Government Public Relations Department