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Posted On: 2 February 2009 06:54 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Call to abolish Thai legislation

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The Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) has called for abolition of the law ‘lèse-majesté’ which provides imprisonment for anyone who insults the monarchy in Thailand. The move has been taken after Australian author Harry Nicolaides was sentenced to three years in prison over alleged insults to the Thai royal family. Nicolaides was convicted on January 19 under Article 112 of the Thai Penal Code, which provides for up to 15 years’ imprisonment for anyone who insults the monarchy. He is alleged to have mentioned the attitude of King Bhumibol’s son towards one of his mistresses in a self published novel, “Verisimilitude”. He was arrested on August 31 last year. The writer’s lawyer, Mark Dean, said just 50 copies of the novel were printed in 2005. The offending paragraph contained only three sentences and did not mention anyone by name. “The monarchy is absolutely not the main subject of the book”, the lawyer added. Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith has asked his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya to obtain a pardon from the king and secure Nicolaides’ release. The number of arrests for “lèse-majesté” has been growing steadily in Thailand. The authorities have focused in particular on websites accused of insulting the monarchy, and several thousand have been blocked since the start of this year. Thai justice minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga has accused about 10,000 sites of insulting the royal family. Foreign media have also been targets of the campaign. The January 22 edition of The Economist was banned from sale in Thailand because of a report on the offence of lèse-majesté and the Nicolaides case. A bit hypocritical isn't it?