Bangkok, Sep 31 (EFE).- Thai courts have issued 100 sentences against 100 people for royal defamation, with 79 sentenced to up to 28 years in prison, between November 2021 and October 2023, the International Federation for Human Rights reported Tuesday.
In a statement, the federation said data collected by the NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights showed that sentences also include 21 people who were acquitted of Article 112 of the Penal Code, known as the lese majeste law.
The majority of those accused of the crime were prosecuted for their participation in pro-democratic demonstrations and for their political activism in the streets or on the internet, although the majority of those convicted are not in prison because they have appealed the sentence.
The law, which provides for penalties of up to 15 years in prison for anyone who defames, offends or threatens the royal family, has been criticized by the United Nations due to the strict penalties contemplated and for violating freedom of expression.
Between 2017 and 2020, Thai authorities barely used the law against dissidents and opponents, whom they accused of sedition or contravening internet laws.
However, former coup-leader-turned-Prime-Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha in 2020 revived the use of the law against student-led protesters who filled the streets of Bangkok that year to call for pro-democratic reforms, including reform of the army and the monarchy.
The federation said at least 259 people, of which 20 are under 18, have been formally accused of royal defamation between November 2020 and October 2023.
At least 16 accused of offenses against the monarchy are detained, including 10 who are appealing their conviction, two children detained in a juvenile center and three serving a prison sentence.
The federation, together with the NGOs Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the Union for Civil Liberty and iLaw, asked the current government, formed after May’s elections, to reform the law to adjust it to international legality.
The NGOs said current Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin described the use of the law as “problematic” and stated that it should be reformed.
However, Srettha, of the Pheu Thai party, formed a government alliance with pro-military parties, with which he agreed not to modify Article 112 of the Penal Code. EFE