Thailand: Draconian penalties for “lese majeste”.

Thai man sentenced to 20 years in prison for ‘insulting’ monarchy.

Ampon Tangnoppakul

On Wednesday, Ampon Tangnoppakul, aka “Uncle SMS”was sentenced to 20 years in jail. A Thai court found him guilty of lese majeste and computer crimes. He was charged with sending four offensive text messages in May of last year to the personal secretary of then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The authorities have indicated that the four SMS messages contained “vulgar language intended to defame the Thai queen and to insult the honour of the monarchy”. The SMS messages have not been made public and reporting by journalists on the text in question would constitute a violation of the law and expose them to criminal prosecution.

The lese majeste laws should be reviewed and updated, so they can be brought into modern times like all other laws.

Under the current law, anyone may bring a charge of lese majeste, and of course because it is a grave charge, police and other authorities must treat each charge and investigation seriously.

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