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Communication With SR on FOE to Thai Government on 26 May 2010

Communication With SR on FOE to Thai Government on 26 May 2010

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Published by Patcharee Sae-eaw
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of
the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue
Addendum

Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received∗

Thailand

*my friend got this from OHCHR website*
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of
the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue
Addendum

Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received∗

Thailand

*my friend got this from OHCHR website*

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Published by: Patcharee Sae-eaw on Dec 09, 2010
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12/09/2010

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GENERAL A/HRC/14/23/Add.126 May 2010ENGLISH/FRENCH/SPANISHONLYHuman Rights CouncilFourteenth session Agenda Item 3
PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, CIVIL,POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS,INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENTReport of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection ofthe right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La RueAddendumSummary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received
 ThailandUrgent appeal
2361. On 6 April 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Groupon Arbitrary Detention, sent an urgent appeal regarding Mr.
Suwicha Takor
, 34 years old.2362. According to the information received, on 3 April 2009, the Criminal Court inBangkok sentenced Mr. Takor to 10 years of imprisonment for posting images on theInternet in 2008 that was allegedly offensive to members of the royal family, including His Majesty, King Rama IX,and the Crown Prince
, Maha Vajiralongkorn. Mr. Takor was convicted of lèse
-
majesté pursuant to articles 8 and 9
of the 2007 Constitution, articles 33, 83, 91 and 112 of the Criminal Code, and also pursuant to articles 14 (2)and 16 (1) of 2007 Computer Related Crime Act for having illegally used a computer. The 2007 Computer Related Crime Act was introduced under the military rule of the country. Mr. Takor was convicted on twoaccounts carrying 10 years of imprisonment each. His sentence was reduced because he had pleaded guilty.2363. The police arrested Mr. Takor on 14 January 2009 in his hometown Nakhon Phanom and he was
transferred to Bangkok. He had been kept in prison since then, as the court twice refused his lawyer’s
submissions for bail.2364. The Minister of Justic
e had called for a blanket ban on reporting on cases of lèse
-
majesté in the Thai
media and was also refusing to publish related statistics.
 
 2365. Concern was expressed that the arrest, detention and imprisonment of Mr. Suwicha Takor might representa direct attempt to stifle freedom of expression in Thailand.
Responses from the Government
2366. In a letter dated 30 April 2009, the Government responded to the communication and provided preliminary
information on the lèse
-
majesté law, explaining that the lèse
-
majesté law is part of Thailand’s criminal code,
which also contains general provisions on defamation and libel of private individuals.
2367. Under the Thai Criminal Procedure Code, a person who comes across a suspected lèse
-
majesté act may
set in motion legal prosecution by lodging a formal complaint with the relevant authorities. Facts and evidenceare gathered and investigated first by the police in order to establish the case, before it can be submitted andexamined by the public prosecutor in accordance with due process of law. Only thereafter may the public
prosecutor bring the case before the court. In the past, a large number of lèse
-
majesté charges have been
dropped. For those found guilty, they have the right to appeal to higher courts. It is also common for thoseconvicted to be subsequently granted royal pardons.
2368. Similar lèse
-
majesté laws exist in many countries with constitutional monarchies, including countries in
Western Europe. Like such countries, Thai law provides that the King shall be held in a non-violable position andthat the King shall be respected and no one shall accuse or file charges of any sort against him. This is inaccordance with article 8 of the 2007 Thai Constitution.2369. The rationale behind the law is to pro
tect Thailand’s national security because under the Thai Constitution,the monarchy is one of Thailand’s principal institutions. The King and other members of the Royal Family are
above politics. The Constitution does not allow them to comment or act in their own defence. This is the samerationale as the law on contempt of court.2370. The King himself is not adverse to criticisms, having publicly expressed, in a nationwide address, his
discomfort with the lèse
-
majesté law and his disagreement with the notion that “the King can do no wrong”.
However, the King is not in a position to amend the law, which has the support of the general public.2371. Thailand is committed to upholding the rights of all persons to freedom of opinion and expression asstipulat
ed in the ICCPR and the 2007 Thai Constitution. The lèse
-
majesté law is not aimed at curbing these rights
nor the legitimate exercise of academic freedom, including the debates concerning the monarchy as aninstitution, which have taken place in the past.2372. In a letter dated 7 July 2009, the Government provided additional information regarding the case of 
Mr.Suwisha Thakor
.2373. Mr. Suwisha Thakor was arrested on 14 January 2009 under a warrant issued by the Criminal Court statingthat, from 27 April to 26 December 2008, Mr. Suwisha Thakor had disseminated information and picturesallegedly offensive to His Majesty the King via the Internet. Mr. Takor denied all charges while the police filed theapplication to the court, requesting to detain Mr. Takor during investigation.
 
 2374. On 26 March 2009, after having received the investigation file from the police, the Attorney-General issuedan opinion to institute prosecutions against Mr. Takor on two counts: (1) defaming, insulting or threatening theKing, the Queen, her Heir apparent or the Regent by importing to a computer system of false computer data in a
manner that is likely to damage the country’
s security and of computer dated related to an offence against the
Kingdom’s security; and (2) importing to a computer system that is publicly accessible of computer data where athird party’s picture appears either created, edited, added or adapted by ele
ctronic means or otherwise in a
manner that is likely to impair the third party’s reputation or cause that third party to be ostracized, abominated or 
embarrassed which are the offences pursuant to Articles 8 and 9 of the Constitution, Articles 33, 83, 91 and 112of the Criminal Code and Articles 14(2) and 16(1) of the Computer-Related Crime Act.
2375. During the detention, Mr. Takor’s wife filed an application with the Court requesting bail for Mr. Takor. The
Court dismissed the application on the ground that the King is a highly respected institution in Thailand and isinviolable by law. This case involved a serious threat to national security which constitutes grave offence. Therewas also the possibility of absconding since Mr. Takor was employed by a foreign company which entailedregular travel. The Court, therefore, ruled that there was no reasonable ground to grant his temporary release.2376. On 30 March 2009, Mr. Suwisha Thakor pleaded guilty to all charges and on 3 April 2009 he wassentenced to 20 years in prison on two counts of ten years each. Since he pleaded guilty, his sentence wasreduced to 10 years.2377. The arrest, prosecution and adjudication in the case of Mr. Suwisha Thakor were conducted in anindependent, transparent and impartial manner in compliance with Thai laws and international human rightsstandards. The above information explicitly indicates that the arrest and detention of Mr. Takor was not arbitrarybut was done under the rule of law. Of this there should be no doubt. Mr. Takor still has the right to appeal hissentence to higher court or request for a royal pardon which can be done under the Criminal Procedure Code
and the Thai Constitution. It should be added that it is not uncommon for royal pardons to be granted in lès
e-
majesté cases in Thailand.
 2378. With respect to freedom of expression, the Minister of Justice has never called for a blanket ban on
reporting on cases of lèse
-
majesté in the Thai media. The case of Mr. Takor and other cases relating to lèse
-
majesté ha
ve been widely reported in the Thai newspapers, television and websites which are the reflection of media freedom granted by the Thai Constitution.
2379. In this connection, the Royal Thai Government would like to share its view regarding the lèse
-
majesté
lawand its implication to the freedom of expression as follows:(1) In any democratic country, it is commonly recognized that the Head of the State has a status different fromthat of ordinary citizens, being not an individual but an institution and a representative of the State. The King of Thailand is no exception. Such a status has been reflected in the constitutions of several democratic nations,
especially the constitutions of those monarchies which stipulate the monarch’s position as being revered
or inviolable. Defamation against the monarch or the King is an offence and carries a penalty of a prison term of varying duration depending on the laws of each country.

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