International Freedom of Expression Collaboration
Prepared by Gaby Canavati
Thailand has recently gained infamous recognition for its
harsh censorship laws, leading many
scholars, governments, and human rights activists to accuse
Thailand of violating one of the fundamental universal human
rights, freedom of expression.
The following presentation explains IFEC’s findings on
Thailand’s current freedom of expression and censorship
The Royal Thai Military initiated a coup d’état against the ex-prime
minister Thaksin Sinawatra
Reports indicate a conflicted relationship between Thaksin and the King
commenting that Sinawatra was known for creating a disjointed society
full of nepotism, corruption and insults towards the King.
After the coup and during military rule, censorship, especially on the
Internet increased dramatically because of criticism against the King
and his family for being “prime instigators” of the coup.
After the coup, the Constitution of 2007 was created along with the
Computer Crime Act of 2007 in addition to more strict enforcement of
Constitution of 2007: A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his or her opinion,
make speeches, write, print, publicize and make expression by other means. The
restriction on liberty under paragraph one shall not be imposed except by virtue of the
provisions of law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the
State, safeguarding the rights, liberties, dignity, reputation, family or privacy rights of
Lèse-Majesté: Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-
apparent, or the Regent shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding 15 years
Computer Crime Act of 2007: If any person commits any offence of the following acts
shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than
one hundred thousand baht or both:
(3) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related
with an offence against the Kingdom's security under the Criminal Code
In June 2013, Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul gained a 15-year sentence after insulting the King. Daranee,
nicknamed “Da Torpedo,” for her blunt speaking style, already served four years in prison for using
“impolite language” at a rally in 2008. Daranee served as a journalist until she became an activist after
the coup of 2006 when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown. She gave racy
speeches at red shirt (Thaksin supporters) rallies.
Aphon Tangnoppakul, a 61-year old grandfather received a 20-year sentence in November 2011 for four
text messages he sent from his phone to a government official that were reportedly offensive to the
Queen. Besides lèse-majesté, Tangnoppakul was also indicted under the Computer Crime Act.
Tangnoppakil denied that he sent the messages. He claimed that he did not even know how to use the
text messaging function. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on multiple charges, one of the longest
prison sentences as a result of these laws. He died during his first year in prison from mouth cancer,
which consequently raised criticism of the lèse-majesté law.
Thai-American, Received 2 ½ years in prison for translating parts of a banned biography of the King and
uploading them to a website. He did the translations while in Colorado, but was arrested when visiting
Lese Majeste and the Computer Crime Act of 2007 infringe on the
freedom of expression, as guaranteed in the Constitution of 2007
Policies and their resulting punishments are not in line with
international treaties on human rights
The laws are ambiguous, resulting in 100% conviction rate
Used as a political tool—silence opposition forces
Define more specifically what is considered a crime under these laws
The appropriate Parliament committee should conduct a comparative study to
review such laws in other monarchies—how are other monarchies addressing
this same issue?
Thai government should comply with international regulations on human rights,
thus lessening the punishment and the counts of such a “crime” is crucial
Thailand should honor its Constitution, and enforce the peoples’ rights to
opinionate or criticize, defend themselves and have a fair and public trial
The government should make public the number of lese majeste cases and
prosecutions as well as the content that resulted in their conviction—what
exactly did they say or do?
IFEC prioritizes the right to freedom of expression for all people. We
recognize Thailand as a vital country in Southeast Asia, both politically
and economically. As an increasingly mobile and online nation, laws like
lèse-majesté and the Computer Crime Act of 2007 only hinder
Thailand’s pioneering possibilities as it violates one of the universal
fundamental human rights, freedom of expression. We urge Thailand to
consider our recommendations in order to create a more free society,
recognizing that the ability to openly communicate and criticize is part
of building a more democratic country, one of Thailand’s primary goals.
We are confident that our recommendations will only help Thailand
push forward as a leader in both the ASEAN region and around the