15-year-old Thai girl remains detained for allegedly defaming the monarchy
Southeast Asia and Pacific and Human Rights Researchers
Global Human Rights Defence
The 15-year-old student activist Thanalop “Yok” Phalanchai remains detained since the end of March 2023 for defaming the Thai royal family (Human Rights Watch, 2023). The girl had allegedly defamed the Thai royal monarchy – named lèse-majesté – a crime considered very serious in Thailand and punished very harshly. On March 28, Yok was arrested in Bangkok for allegedly criticising the Thai monarchy during a rally in front of Bangkok City Hall in October 2022 (Human Rights Watch, 2023). During the rally, she and other peaceful protestors called for the immediate release of political prisoners in Thailand and the abolition of the royal family’s prosecution of defamation (Human Rights Watch, 2023).
Now Yok herself is being held at a Juvenile Center for Girls west of Bangkok, facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the alleged violation of Article 112 of the Thai Penal Code (Human Rights Watch, 2023). Elaine Person, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch, calls for the immediate release of Thanalop Phalanchai and expresses concern about the repeated harsh treatment of critics of the monarchy (Human Rights Watch, 2023).
Since 2022, detainment and prosecution for lèse-majesté cases have increased again in Thailand, now showing that not even children are safe from being punished for expressing their views (Human Rights Watch, 2023). In addition, NGOs criticise Thailand’s practice of holding people awaiting trial in detention until their process instead of releasing them from prison (Human Rights Watch, 2023).
Sources and further reading:
Human Rights Watch (April 28, 2023). Thailand: Free Girl Detained for ‘Defaming Monarchy’. Retrieved on May 5, 2023, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/04/28/thailand-free-girl-detained-defaming-monarchy