IFJ Condemns Thailand's Laws to Block Free Expression

 

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the detention in Thailand of an

Australian writer accused of offending the monarchy in a novel published

several years ago.

 

Harry Nicolaides was detained on August 31 as he was about to board a

flight to Australia, and has

been held in a remand centre in Bangkok

to await trial, according to news reports.

 

He is accused under Thailand’s

lese majeste laws of offending the country’s monarchy in a novel released three

years ago. Fifty copies were printed,

according to news reports.

 

The case underscores the IFJ’s concerns about Thailand’s severe

and anachronistic lese majeste laws and the manner in which they are used

frequently by power-holders to silence criticism.

 

“Thailand’s

harsh lese majeste laws are commonly used by people in power – or those seeking

it – to limit freedom of expression and shut down voices of dissent in the

country,” IFJ Asia-Pacific.

 

“The

laws underlie widespread self-censorship among Thailand’s population, and impede

independent and critical reporting by both local and foreign journalists in the

country. Even reporting on lese majeste cases puts the media at risk of repeating

the alleged offence.

 

“The

IFJ condemns the continued application

of lese majeste laws against those who seek to express their views freely.”

 

Thailand's lese majeste laws are among the strictest in the world. The constitution

dictates reverence for the King must not be violated, while the criminal code

allows for a penalty of three to 15 years’ jail for “defaming, insulting or

threatening” the King, Queen, Heir-apparent or Regent. Lese majeste complaints

can be filed by any individual and police are required to investigate all

complaints.

 

While

the King made a public statement in 2005 that he could indeed be criticised, complaints continue to be filed.

 

The IFJ calls on authorities to drop the case and release

Nicolaides immediately.

 

For further information

contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612

9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents over 600,000 in

122 countries worldwide