Open Letter to Fellow Writers and the Thai People

Regarding Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code

In July 2011, 365 Thai writers from all over the country signed a letter agreeing that Article 112 of Thai Criminal Code, or the “Lèse Majesté Law”, should be amended to be in line with basic human rights principles on the freedom of expression of the people under a democratic regime. The letter also states that the amendment of the law would protect the monarchy from being used as an instrument of politics, which is one of the important factors that undeniably creates conflict, inequality and violence in Thai society.

Apart from the writers, there were people from various groups and sectors in society, including a former Prime Minister, scholars, and influential and well-respected intellectuals who signed the letter. There were also Thai people who albeit have different political views but came out and agreed on this issue: that the use of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code is urgently in need of reform for Thailand to become a civilised society replete with justice, compassion, peace and progress under a truly democratic regime.

However, the situation in Thailand is still going in the opposite direction. The use of Article 112 in order to persecute, threaten, harass, intimidate and constrain the people is ever more increasing.

In 2011, many Lèse Majesté cases came to be widely discussed in society. Thai citizens and international observers have raised questions about the verdicts in these cases. Increasingly, the situation has caused the credibility of the Thai legal process and the respect of basic human rights in Thailand to waver.

In addition, there are media outlets bereft of integrity and an ill-intentioned group unconcerned about the future of the country who are trying to distort, malign and attack the proposal for the amendment of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code as an attempt to “topple the institution”, “topple the monarchy” or an action “without love for the country”. They have gone so far as to allege that the proposal itself is actually a violation of Article 112. This creates even more misunderstanding, confusion and conflict in society.

As part of the increasing intensification of the enforcement of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, there are prisoners who have been given sentences comparable to those given for serious, violent crime for the sole reason that they expressed their opinions. Furthermore, there is a movement to malign, prosecute and harass ordinary people who want the country to be truly democratic. We – Sang Sumnuek Writers – see that it is time for the people who love justice, envision democracy and want the monarchy to be free from being an instrument of politics, to come together and push for the amendment of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code to happen as soon as possible.

We – Sang Sumnuek Writers – agree with the proposal to amend Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code by the Khana Nitirassadorn because we see the proposal as an initiative that will create a path to justice within society, and create a norm for the protection of rights and the freedom of expression of the people within a democratic regime. Moreover, it will protect the monarchy from being used as an instrument of politics in the long run.

The proposal for the amendment of Article 112 by the Khana Nitirassadorn can be summed up as follows:

  1. To differentiate Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code from being characterised as a national security offence.
  2. To differentiate between offences about the honour of the King, Queen, and Heir-Apparent from those about the honour of the Regent within the Criminal Code.
  3. To separate the protection of the King from the protection of the Queen, Heir-Apparent and the Regent.
  4. To amend the guidelines for punishment, such that there is no minimum punishment and no additional fine, and to reduce the maximum punishment by bringing it in line with the punishment used in cases concerning ordinary individuals. To amend the law to make the punishment for offences against the King greater than that of ordinary individuals by 1 year. To differentiate the punishment for the offence of defamation from the punishment for offence of insult.
  5. To permit expressions made in good faith to protect the rule under a democratic regime with the King as head of state under the Constitution.
  6. Cases in which the veracity of the expression in question is not proven because the proof is judged to not be in the public interest should be exempted from punishment.
  7. Accusations cannot be made by ordinary individuals. The Office of His Majesty’s Principle Private Secretary shall make accusations.

(The Khana Nitirassadorn’s detailed proposal and explanation can be read and downloaded here)

In order to support making this proposal a reality, various networks in society including us, Sang Sumnuek Writers, who support the proposal to amend Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code of the Khana Nitirassadorn have come together to create the “Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112” (CCAA112). The CCAA112 will campaign to secure at least 10,000 signatures in order for the proposal to be examined by the parliament.

We hope that the 365 writers who have signed the previous letter calling for the amendment of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, and other writers and people who have not yet signed the letter but have concerns about the enforcement of this law, will take time to consider the proposal for amendment and decide to join to be an important force in the push to amend Article 112.

This is in order to bring forth lasting justice and freedom of expression of thought across Thailand and for the institution of the monarchy to truly not be used as an instrument of politics.

With respect and regards,

Sang Sumnuek Writers

12 January 2012


[[email protected]]

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