Indicts Former Prime Minister on Royal Insult Charges

Thailand's former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is set to appear in court on June 18th to answer charges of insulting the royal family and violating the Computer Crime Act.

Indicts Former Prime Minister on Royal Insult Charges
Photo Source: Royal Pantheon at the Temple of Emerald Buddha, Bangkok, Thailand by Kirandeep Singh Walia

4-6-2024

Nuno Daun

Southeast Asia & Pacific Team

Global Human Rights Defense

After 15 years in exile, Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand where he now faces charges of insulting the monarchy.

A spokesperson for Thailand’s attorney general stated that the former Prime Minister will be summoned to appear in court on the June 18th to answer for charges of insulting the royal family and for violating the Computer Crime Act.

Lese-Majeste in Thailand

Thailand has one of the strictest lese-majeste laws in the world. In Thailand, under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, it is a crime to defame, insult and or threaten any member of the monarchy, with the penalty ranging from three to fifteen years in prison. In addition to being a law that has faced criticism for how broad its interpretation can be, the Thai Supreme Court decreed that the law is equally applicable to monarchs who have passed. Furthermore, the courts of Thailand have historically denied bail to those charged with violating this law, which according to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a violation of international human rights law.

Thaksin Shinawatra

Thaksin Shinawatra, who served as the 23rd Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006. After leaving office, amid claims and charges of corruption, Shinawatra sought safety in Manila, Philippines. A year prior, in 2007, the former Prime Minister was exiled to the United Kingdom, but after returning to Thailand and amidst corruption charges, the British government revoked his visa. In the meantime, there were many allegations that Shinawatra still had power and influence over Thailand’s political landscape from afar, mainly due to his influence. After 15 years in exile, Shinawatra agreed to return to Thailand and claimed that was willing to serve his sentences. Upon arrival, he was taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison to serve an eight year sentence. However, his sentence was commuted from 8 to one year after petitioning and being granted a royal pardon by King Vajiralongkorn. On February 18th, he was released on parole after serving six months.

In May, Shinawatra was charged with lese-majeste over remarks he made in an interview to a South Korean newspaper in 2015. Due to the strained relations between Shinawatra and the current Attorney General, many speculate that the charges are politically driven.

Thaksin Shinawatra is set to appear in court on June 18th, 2024. Shinawatra denies the charges.

 

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