Posted: February 21st, 2012 | Author: Giandra | Filed under: Governmental Policies, Human Rights, Politics, Thailand
Thailand has known over 400 cases of lèse-majesté over the past five years. This has raised concerns from people who claim the act is too severe in the country. The lèse-majesté is a criminal offence committed against a sovereign power or an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power.
This act has been used for many years and in many monarchies to protect the royal family. In the United Kingdom, a similar act called Treason acts on those who ‘’Compass the Death of the King, Queen, or their eldest Son; violating the Queen, or the King’s eldest Daughter unmarried, or his eldest Son’s Wife; levying War; adhering to the King’s Enemies; killing the Chancellor, Treasurer, or Judges in Execution of their Duty, where life-imprisonment is given. In Germany, Switzerland, and Poland it is illegal to insult foreign heads of state publicly whilst Denmark has the Libel act.
In Thailand, this act is still in use in the criminal code of 1956 section 112, which states that ‘’ whoever, defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years’’.
On December 26, 2011, Nitirassadorn proposed different amendments to code 112. The main reasons for this proposal are freedom of speech and human rights.
The proposed amendments of the criminal code towards the lèse-majesté act are first to repeal code 112 from the criminal code. 2, It wants to separate offence into the nature of the offence into four types. 3. Separate protection of the King from protection of the Queen, Heir-apparent and regent.4. Change the range of penalties into less severe punishments. 5. Grant exemption to constituting an offence if the criticism was done in good faith, and finally the accusatory authority should be given to only the Bureau of Royal household.
Dr. Tul Sitthisomwong, head of the multicolored group known as Network of Citizen Volunteers Protecting the Land, who opposes to the change of this act is of opinion that with the amendments proposed by Nitirat group, defamation to the Royal family will increase, in addition to more insult and threats. This will create chaos in the Monarchy. He states that this amendment will affect the national security negatively. In his perception, the amendment is the first step into eradication of the Thai Monarchy. Conversely, he does agree with Nitirat that punishment should be less severe depending on the offence made. Locals in many provinces have also gathered to protest against this amendment proposal with the argument that it is disloyal to the Royal family.
The battle between freedom of speech-human rights versus peacekeeping and maintaining the Monarchy in the future are two different extremes. There are many questions that arise of to what the hidden agenda of both Nitirat and the opposition is. Does Nitirat really want to protect human rights and acts in the best interest of Monarchy or does it actually want to eradicate the Monarchy in the future and use this amendment as disguise? Equally to assess is the interest of the opposition to this amendment. Good reigns are less criticized than bad reigns. Following this logic it can be assumed that this is the fear of chaos of the opposition.