Thai Government Files Royal Insult Complaint Against Lawmaker

The Thai government lodged a lese majeste complaint against an opposition lawmaker for allegedly defaming the monarchy and pledging support for a movement calling for monarchy reform.

Suporn Atthawong, vice minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, on Thursday asked the police to pursue a case against Amarat Chokepamitkul of Move Forward party for violating the country’s Computer Crimes Act and lese majeste law after she censured the government during a parliament debate and posted the video on social media.

“We’re not trying to silence any lawmakers, but they should be careful and avoid breaking the law,” Suporn said, adding his team has gathered enough evidence against the lawmaker. “We want to set an example for other lawmakers to not do what she did,” Suporn said.

While Thai lawmakers enjoy privileges that protect them from legal proceedings arising from what they say in parliament, the government’s legal team focused on Amarat’s posts on social media which isn’t covered by such privileges.

Thailand’s lese majeste law is one of the harshest in the world, mandating as many as 15 years in prison for each instance of defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir apparent or regent. Since late November, authorities have ramped up lese majeste lawsuits against key pro-democracy activists in a bid to quell the movement, with nearly 60 people now facing the lawsuits.

Suporn also said his office has evidence of Amarat backing protest leaders, some of whom have been already detained for royal insult.

Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of Move Forward, the second-largest opposition party, said the party will support the lawmaker and will fight the charges.

Thailand’s parliament is holding a four-day censure debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha and nine other ministers, targeting them on issues ranging from handling of Covid-19 outbreak, budget allocation and alleged corruption, with a vote due on Saturday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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