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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thail court Wants People to Censor Anti-Monarchy Comments

A Thai court recently handed down the decision to sentence an online editor to prison for allowing publications that were critical of the monarchy on the website she operated. This ruling had been suspended after an outcry about the legislation and calls to reform it.

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Online editor Chiranuch Premchaiporn was found guilty of failing to quickly remove comments by other people that were regarded insulting to the royal family on the news portal she runs, Prachatai. As a result, Premchaiporn was fined around $500 and got 8 months jail sentence.

However, Judge Kampol Rungrat suspended the sentence for 1 year, noting that Chiranuch Premchaiporn didn’t violate the law herself. The judge added that while the defendant can’t deny liability for taking care of the material posted on her website, she gave useful evidence.

Meanwhile, the portal operator faces a further charge of breaching section 112 of the country’s criminal code that outlaws insults to the Thai royal family and implies a maximum of 15 years in jail for every conviction. But the local media revealed that this case has sparked a fierce debate in the country. Thai authorities are apparently suing the strict "lese majeste" legislation against defaming the royal family to stamp on everyone who criticizes the country’s government.

At the moment, a petition is signed by almost 27,000 citizens, which urges reform. The petition was submitted to the parliament in the first mass action of its kind in Thailand. The international media is excited too, saying that this case is just another example of how site operators may suffer from what they didn’t do.

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