Press Releases : The Thai Criminal Court’s Ruling on Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk Media Center

Press Releases : The Thai Criminal Court’s Ruling on Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

 

         On 23 January 2013, the Criminal Court found Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk guilty of offences under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, or the so-called lèse-majesté law, for spreading false information to incite hatred toward the monarchy.  His sentence was based on his conviction on two counts related to two articles he published in the Voice of Taksin magazine in 2010. 

          Although the identity of the writer could not be conclusively established, as the articles were written under a pseudonym, the Court was of the view that, as the editor of the magazine, Mr. Prueksakasemsuk had the duty of reviewing all articles before publication and must therefore be held accountable under the law.

          The ruling is not final. The legal proceedings against Mr. Prueksakasemsuk have been carried out in accordance with due process as provided by the Thai Criminal Procedure Code, including the right to a fair trial, to contest the charges and to appeal. His conviction has already been appealed.

          Regarding the possibility of bail, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has objected to his applications on the grounds that he had failed to report to the police despite being issued three summonses. In addition, he was arrested while trying to cross the border, and there was a risk that he might attempt to compromise witnesses or evidence in the case.

          It must be emphasized that Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code is in conformity with relevant international human rights laws. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes that the right to freedom of expression is not without limits.  The right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, and may be subject to certain restrictions as provided by law as necessary to uphold the rights or reputations of others, protect national security, and public order.  In addition, Article 17 of the said covenant also provided everyone with the right to protect his or her honour and reputation.

          According to the Thai Constitution, the monarchy is not in a position to file any lawsuits. Section 112 of the Criminal Code and related laws therefore exist to provide such protection. On October 2012, the Constitutional Court made a unanimous decision on the petition by Mr. Prueksakasemsuk’s lawyers, reaffirming the constitutionality of Section 112 of the Criminal Code on grounds that the monarch, as head of state, was entitled to protection under the law (Article 8 of the Constitution). The Court also said in its verdict that the protection is commensurate with the stature of the head of state, is vital to national security and does not violate an individual’s rights to freedom of expression and opinion.