The Thai government is aware of the conflict between freedom of speech and the lese majeste law, says Thailand’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Sihasak Phuangketkeow.
UN expert Frank La Rue has called for Thailand to tone down laws that prohibit defamation of its royal family, saying the legislation and punishments involved may violate an international rights treaty.
”The monarchy is a very important institution. It’s the pillar of stability and unity in Thailand,” Mr Sihasak said yesterday. ”But we are aware of the concerns.”
A committee had been appointed to advise the government on how to better implement the law, he added.
Mr La Rue has urged the Thai government to amend Section 112 of the Penal Code and the 2007 Computer Crime Act, saying that the laws were too vague and the harsh criminal sanctions went against universal norms.
”I urge Thailand to hold broad-based public consultations to amend the laws so that they are in conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations,” Mr La Rue said in his statement issued from Geneva on Monday.
Article 112 stipulates that ”whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne or the Regent shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years”.
”The recent spike in lese majeste cases pursued by the police and the courts shows the urgency to amend them,” said Mr La Rue, adding that the Computer Crimes Act has also been used as a de facto lese majeste law, with jail sentences of up to five years.