Internet Enemies - Countries under surveillance: Thailand
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||12 March 2009|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Internet Enemies - Countries under surveillance: Thailand, 12 March 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a38f97e28.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
As the end of King Bumibol Adulyadej's reign approaches, the monarchy has become an ever more sensitive issue. At the start of January 2009, the information and communications minister announced that the government was going to invest 500 million baht (1.1 million euros) to put in place a national filtering system to block websites hosted abroad that could damage the monarchy. Since December 2008, the ministry has decided to step up the fight against the crime of lese-majeste online. More than 4,000 websites have been blocked since the start of 2009. However, official sources say that only 4,800 pages have been blocked for this reason since March 2008.
Under the Cyber Crime Act, adopted in 2007, police can seize computer equipment of people suspected of sending message containing insulting or pornographic content. The crime of lese-majeste did not appear in this law. But at the start of 2009, an amendment was added providing for prison sentences for anyone suspected of the crime of lese-majeste so as to increase sentences in cases of "defamation", "insult" or "threat to the monarchy". Almost a score of people are currently facing charges of this crime because of their articles posted online. Internet user Suwicha Thakor was arrested on 14 January 2009 by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), while he was visiting friends in the country. The IP address of his computer indicated that his home corresponded to the place from which comments about the king and his entourage had been posted. He is being held at the Klong Prem prison, even though he denies charges of the "crime of lese-majeste" against him. Two bail applications have been denied.
Blogger Praya Pichai spent two weeks in custody, facing proceedings under Article 14 for "defamation" and "damaging national security" at the end of August 2007 for making comments considered "critical of the monarchy" in an article posted on his blog (http://www.prachathai.com). The Thai authorities dropped charges against him for lack of proof. However, Praya Pichai has been put under surveillance for ten years and faces prison if he publishes any further comments about the monarchy.
The crime of lese-majeste is punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and any Thai citizen can ask for the opening of an investigation if he suspects one of his fellow citizens to be guilty of it.