Thailand defends its draconian royal insults rule before the UN council

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Thailand defended its controversial law criminalizing criticism of its strong monarchy on Wednesday (Nov 10) as UN member states voiced worry over its human rights record and arrests of teenage demonstrators demanding royal changes since last year.
Thailand has one of the strictest “lese majeste” laws globally, with sentences of up to 15 years in prison for anybody found guilty of defaming, insulting, or threatening King Maha Vajiralongkorn, his immediate family.
Some member states requested Thailand to reform its lese majeste law during a UN Human Rights Council working group’s universal periodic review on Wednesday, claiming it hindered freedom of expression.
On the other hand, Officials in Thailand believe that it safeguards the monarchy and hence national security and that royal insult cases are adequately handled.
“It symbolizes Thailand’s culture and history, where the monarchy is one of the country’s key foundations, cherished by the majority of Thai people,” said Nadhavathna Krishnamra, a foreign ministry spokesperson.
“Its survival is inextricably tied to the protection of important national institutions and national security.”
Thailand’s royal family is formally above politics, with the King being incorporated in the constitution as a “revered worship” figure.
According to data gathered by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group, at least 156 individuals have been prosecuted for lese majeste since student protests began last year, including 13 children.
Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland were among those who demanded that Thailand change or reconsider the law at the UN review. The US expressed alarm over the “increased usage” of the lese majeste statute and its implications for freedom of expression.

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