Issue of Release Expressing Concern over the Rise in Use of Lese Majeste Laws

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued the following press release regarding the joint news release of the Special Procedures Branch, of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressing concern over the rise in use of lèse-majesté laws.

Following the joint news release on 8 February 2021 by the Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), comprising (1) the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression;(2) the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association; and (3) the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, expressing concern over the increase in the use of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to clarify as follows.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assigned the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva to clarify the matter for the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, who issued the joint news release, by emphasizing the following points.

1. Thailand remains steadfast in upholding its international obligations on the protection of human rights and assures that Thai citizens enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. These rights include participation in discussions and debates on public affairs as well as issues related to the monarchy as long as they are within the bounds of the law. This is in line with Article 19 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a party, which states that the right to freedom of expression carries with it, duties and responsibilities concerning the reputation of others and the protection of public order and national security.

2. The recent increase of Section 112 cases is due to increased political activities. Some of the actions could be interpreted as a violation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which have led to the filing of complaints against numerous individuals. As such, law enforcement officers are obliged to investigate the cases, otherwise they themselves could face charges of dereliction of duty.

3. All investigations and legal proceedings concerning those who have been charged with Section 112 violation are conducted under due process of law. If there is credible evidence, the case will be transmitted to the Office of the Attorney-General to decide whether or not to prosecute. Anyone accused of the crime has the right to dispute his or her case and is entitled to a lawyer, in accordance with due process of law.

Source: The Government Public Relations Department