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Thai Police Charge Two Eight-Year-Old Girls for Tearing Voters List

The two girls appearing before Thai police. Officers said rules required charges to be filed even though the girls will not be punished.

The two girls appearing before Thai police. Officers said rules required charges to be filed even though the girls will not be punished.

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BANGKOK – Police in Thailand have charged two 8-year-old girls for violating campaigning rules ahead of a contentious referendum next month after tearing voter lists off a wall because they liked the pink paper they were printed on, police said on Sunday.

The military government has clamped down on dissent ahead of the Aug. 7 vote on a military-backed constitution that it says will ensure stability in a country rocked by political turmoil for more than a decade.

The girls were charged with obstructing the referendum process and destroying public property after tearing down the lists posted outside a school, said Damrong Phetpong, police commander in the northern province of Kamphaeng Phet.

The girls told officers that they had played with the lists because they were pink and a pretty colour.

However, police initially said they needed to follow procedure and charge the girls, as damage to state assets had occurred, sparking anger on Thai social media and amongst rights groups.

On Friday, an officer at Kamphaeng Phet police station said that the two girls were under 10 years old – the minimum age at which a person can be held legally responsible under Thai law.

The girls were now back with their parents, and the police were working to conclude the case, he said.

The referendum will be the first big test of the public’s opinion of the military government since it came to power after a May 2014 coup.

Critics, including major political parties, say the draft charter would give the military too much power over elected governments, and would not resolve differences between populist political forces and the military-dominated establishment.

The government, which appears increasingly jittery ahead of the vote, has brought in a law banning discussion of the constitution and lobbying, both for and against, with a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who breaks it.

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel – Reuters

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Posted by on Jul 25 2016. Filed under Regional News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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