Kao Klai party seek lower penalties for lèse majesté and decriminalization of defamation

Kao Klai party leader, Pita Limjaroenrat

Thailand’s opposition Kao Klai party announced today (Wednesday) that it will propose the decriminalization of defamation and reduction of penalties for acts of lèse majesté.

Accompanied by party MPs, Kao Klai party leader Pita Limjaroenrat told the media that they will propose a set of five bills to parliament, including one eliminating imprisonment as a penalty for defamation and another to put the lèse majesté law (Section 112 of the Criminal Code) into a chapter regarding offences against the honour or dignity of members of the Royal Family and the Regent.

He said that the party’s move regarding the lèse majesté law is to make it more appropriate to present circumstances, with the possibility of imprisonment being retained, but with the minimum sentence being removed.

The current penalties for a conviction for lèse majesté are a minimum of three years and up to a maximum 15 years in prison. For defamation, the penalties are one year in prison and/or a fine of 20,000 baht. While, for libel, the penalties are two years in prison and/or a fine of up to 200,000 baht.

The other bills to be proposed by the party concern the Computer Crime Act and Criminal Procedural and Civil Procedural Codes.

Pita reiterated that the Kao Klai party has and does adhere to a democratic system with the King as the head of state and that the monarchy should be immune to criticism but, at the same time, the party wants to make sure that no one makes use of the monarchy’s status against their political opponents or the lèse majesté law to gag other people.

He specifically cited the court’s decision yesterday to deny bail to four Ratsadon leaders charged with lèse majesté and several other crimes.

The Kao Klai party leader admitted that he is not worried that the party’s bid to amend the lèse majesté law will face stiff resistance, which may lead to the party being dissolved by the Constitutional Court, saying that it is normal to have people with opposing views under democratic rule.

Party secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon, meanwhile, said that he has never witnessed attempts to amend a law to overthrow a regime, with the exception of a military coup.

He insisted that reducing penalties for breaches of the lèse majesté law does not amount to a total dismantling of the legal mechanism to protect the honour or dignity of the monarchy, but to make the law more relevant.

He said that the party has worked hard to offer the best proposal, which could be acceptable to all parties concerned.

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