Thailand. A demonstrator who participated in a parody of a fashion show sentenced to two years in prison for “lèse

Reacting to the sentencing of Jatuphon “Niw” Saeung to two years in prison for his participation in a mock fashion show held in October 2020 in Thailand to protest, Kyle Ward, Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International, said :

“The fake fashion show was a satirical look at the political situation in the country, offered as part of a peaceful public event akin to a street party with music, food and dancing. No one should be punished for participating in such a peaceful gathering.

“This prison sentence, which is at least the 10e condemnation for lèse-majesté (or insult to the monarchy) pronounced since last year, is only the sinister prelude of what awaits the population: a record number of 210 activists and demonstrators have been charged under Section 112 of Thailand’s Penal Code since the large-scale, overwhelmingly peaceful protests began in 2020.

“Amnesty International calls on the authorities to immediately drop all charges against people who have simply exercised their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to release those who are arbitrarily detained.

“As protests resume in Thailand, this latest conviction shows how authorities continue to crack down on peaceful dissent.

“The Thai authorities are bound to protect the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, but they persist in criminally prosecuting protesters, many of them young people and even children. These young protesters must be free to express their opinions and participate in discussions in society, and not face the prospect of risking wrongful prison sentences and a criminal record. »

Additional information

On September 12, 2022, the Bangkok Criminal Court initially sentenced Jatuphon “Niw” Saeung to three years in prison, after authorities prosecuted her for insulting the monarchy under Section 112 of the Penal Code. According to this article, anyone found guilty of defamation, insult or threat to the king, queen, crown prince or regent is liable to a prison term of three to 15 years. The court eventually reduced his sentence by a third to two years’ imprisonment, because “Niw” provided information to the authorities. For the same offences, the latter was also found guilty of violating the Law on Public Gatherings and fined 1,500 Thai baht, which the court reduced to 1,000 baht. She is currently being held at the Central Correctional Institution for Women in Bangkok pending a decision by the Court of Appeal on her bail application.

UN human rights experts have repeatedly expressed concern over the increased use of this provision of the Criminal Code and its adverse consequences for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and assembly. These experts and other UN member states have also repeatedly called on authorities to repeal or amend Section 112 to bring it into line with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.

‘Niw’ took part in a satirical fashion show on Silom Road, Bangkok on October 29, 2020. She was accused of impersonating the Queen of Thailand to make fun of her by wearing a traditional Thai dress.

This demonstration was one of many protest rallies organized in 2020 and early 2021, where tens or even hundreds of thousands of protesters, mostly peaceful and young, including children, are took to the streets to demand political, economic and social reform in Thailand. Authorities have initiated criminal proceedings against more than 1,800 people, including more than 280 minors, prosecuted for participating in the protests and expressing their opinions.

According to the NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 210 people, including 17 children, have been charged with lèse-majesté since November 2020, for which 10 convictions have been handed down between 2021 and 2022.

Amnesty International does not comment on the nature of the statements found to violate Article 112, but urges the authorities to uphold their international obligation to respect, protect and promote the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.

Thailand is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 19 of which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and Article 21 the right to peaceful assembly. The UN Human Rights Committee, the body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the ICCPR, has expressed concern about lèse-majesté laws. In particular, he stressed that all public figures, including those who exercise political functions at the highest level of political power, are legitimately exposed to criticism and political opposition and that these criticisms of State institutions must not not be prohibited. He further clarified that imprisonment was never an appropriate sentence for offenses of defamation, including lèse-majesté.

Other UN member states have made multiple recommendations to remove lèse-majesté provisions from the Penal Code, including during the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Thailand. So far, the Thai government has always rejected these recommendations.

Thailand. A demonstrator who participated in a parody of a fashion show sentenced to two years in prison for “lèse-majesté”