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
.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.