Six press association ask government to withdraw or revise new information decree

Six press associations asked the government on Friday to revise its latest emergency order which could be used to suppress the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression.

“We urged the government to reconsider the order and announce its intention for the implementation of the order so that it cannot be used as a tool to block the media’s duty to provide information and honest public opinion,” the associations said in a joint statement.

“Such practice would affect the right to information and the right to free expression,” they added.

The emergency order came into effect this week and was meant to suppress harmful information that could cause the public to panic during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the government.

The government said that misinformation about its policies has caused undue panic and unwarranted criticism, something it wants to cut down on.

The Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) told Thai Enquirer earlier that the order could be used to silence dissidents.

The press associations said in the statement that the new order is different from the previous order which only crackdown on fake information, now any information detrimental to national security, even if real, would be subject to censorship and prosecution.

The press associations said that there were existing laws such as the Computer Crime Act and the Communicable Diseases Act that already stopped the spread of fake news.

The six associations include the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Society for Online News Providers and the National Union of Journalists Thailand.

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