King Vajiralongkorn has instructed the Thai government not to use Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, or the lèse-majesté law, to prosecute civilians, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said on Monday.
“You can see that today that we have not been using 112 at all.” he told reporters on Monday, “You know why? It was because the King was kind enough to instruct that it should not be used.”
Thailand’s lese majeste laws protect the monarch and his immediate family from insult. Those found in violation could face up to 15 years in prison.
“This is what the King has done and there are people who are still violating it. What does it means? What do these people want?” Prayut said.
The PM also said he is concerned with current political movement that has comments related to the monarchy.
In regards to Thais living in exile due to lèse-majesté, the prime minister said that the only reason why they are currently living outside the country is because they have broken the law in Thailand.
“These people should realize that these countries have given them a place to stay and they should not be breaking the law in those countries or else they will run into problems again in the future,” he added.
Deputy Prawit Wongsuwan said on the same day the government is following up on people commented against the monarchy.
When asked to confirm by reporters in regards to what prime minister Prayut said about Section 112 against civilians, the deputy minister said, “we are already not using it anyway.”
According to legal monitoring group ILaw and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights the government has used the lese majeste laws less but have used other legal means to prosecute dissidents including the computer crimes act.
Abolish the law
Former Future Forward MP Pannika Wanich told Thai Enquirer on Monday that the prime minister’s comments represented a good opportunity.
“If the law is not going to be used on civilians anymore than what is the point of it, they should get rid of this section of the criminal code as the MPs of the Move Forward Party have been saying in Parliament,” she said.
Pannika warned that there were still other laws “that infringe on the right to free speech of civilians” including the Computer CrimesAct that must be amended.