Press Releases : Comments on OHCHR’s Press Release Regarding Legal Proceedings under Section 112 of the Penal Code news3

Press Releases : Comments on OHCHR’s Press Release Regarding Legal Proceedings under Section 112 of the Penal Code

With regards to the concerns expressed by OHCHR’s spokesperson on the legal proceedings under Section 112 of the Penal Code, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to clarify as follows:
 
The Thai monarchy is a pillar of stability in Thailand. Dating back over 700 years, the monarchy is respected and revered by the Thai people, whose sense of identity is closely linked to the institution. The institution, to this day, continues to play a unifying role, binding all Thais together. Enacting appropriate legislation to protect the highly revered institution is a common practice in Thailand as in other nations.
 
The lèse-majesté law, or Section 112, is part of Thailand's Penal Code providing protection to the rights or reputations of the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent and the Regent in a similar way libel law does for commoners. It is in place for the purpose of protecting national security and order, and is not aimed at curbing people's rights to freedom of expression. Similar protection is provided for the King, the Queen and the Heir-apparent of other States, as well as the official representatives thereof, as enshrined in article 133 - 134 of Thailand's Penal Code.
 
Thailand respects and values freedom of expression. However, these rights must be exercised within the boundary of the law in a manner that does not disrupt public order and social harmony or infringe upon others’ rights or reputations. This is in accordance with Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, and thus can be subject to certain restrictions as necessary for the respect of the rights or reputations of others and for the protection of national security or public order. Hence, the application of the lèse-majesté law is not incompatible with international human rights law.
 
As with other criminal offences, proceedings on lèse-majesté cases are conducted with due legal process. Those convicted for lèse-majesté are entitled to the same rights as those convicted for other criminal offences, including the right to file an appeal and the right to seek royal pardon.
 
There is no difference in the proceedings conducted under the military court from those under civilian courts. The same rights are guaranteed by the military court as they are in civilian courts, including the right to fair trial and the right to bail, as well as the right to legal counsel. Moreover, cases that began before 12 September 2016 are not transferred to civilian courts so as to facilitate the defendants in not having to begin the legal procedures all over.
 
The Government of Thailand attaches importance to protecting and promoting human rights and freedom of the people, as long as such freedom is exercised within the boundary of the law, and welcomes constructive and continuous cooperation with OHCHR.