January 28, 2009

Thailand: No Free Speech for Critics of Royals

Thai officials said recently that the government has identified more than 10,000 websites that supposedly insult the country’s monarchy.

Insulting Thailand’s king or any members of the royal family is a criminal offense and punishable by time in prison, according to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.

Reports indicate the number of Web sites allegedly insulting the monarchy is increasing, even though the government already blocked 2,300 and has plans to block 400 more.

One former Thai minister told The Straits Times that Thailand’s “lese majeste” law — which protects King Bhumibol and his family from criticism — have created the problem, usually spurring court cases that “take up a lot of people’s time.”

Media and rights activists are opposed to such protections, and Dr. Tej Bunnag, a former royal advisor, said efforts have been made to amend the law, but did not provide details.

–Julia Hengst/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Thai government says 10,000 websites have lese majeste messages”
Southeast Asian Press Alliance, January 20, 2009

“Lese majeste laws ‘a problem’ for Thais”
The Straits Times, January 22, 2009

Comments are closed.