“With its notorious red-light districts and high per capita murder rate, Thailand is home to plenty of shocking court dramas. But the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn now unfolding in a Bangkok courtroom is raising eyebrows not so much because of the alleged misdeeds — 10 violations of the Computer Crime Act — but because it serves as a crucial test of freedom of expression in this politically troubled country.”
Posts tagged “Thailand”
“Last Friday, February 4 marked the start of court proceedings against Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn (known as Jiew), director of the popular online newspaper Prachatai. Jiew faces criminal charges under the Computer Crimes Act (CCA), with a potential penalty of twenty years in prison. Her alleged crime? The government has accused her as operator of Prachatai’s web forum of allowing ten user-generated posts to remain online for too long, even though the offending posts were removed far before her arrest.
Even more troubling, this case is merely the first of two: Jiew was arrested again in September 2010 upon her return from an Internet freedom conference and faces additional charges with penalties of up to fifty years. She was again charged under the CCA and also under lèse majesté laws (defamation of the monarchy) for an interview she published with a Thai man who refused to stand during the Thai Royal Anthem, and for resulting user commentary deemed insulting to the King.”
“Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who manages the popular Prachatai site, is accused of allowing material onto her website which threatens national security.
Prachatai was one of many sites blocked during last year’s mass anti-government “red-shirt” demonstrations.
Media freedom advocates say Thailand’s cyber laws allow officials to censor any politically challenging content.”
From BBC News
Five months after violent clashes between anti-government groups and state security forces, the Thai government still uses emergency powers to suppress fundamental human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.
On April 7, 2010, in response to escalating violence by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and other parts of the country. The Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation (“Emergency Decree”) allows Thai authorities to carry out extended detention of suspects without charge; deny information about those detained without charge; use unofficial detention facilities, where there are inadequate safeguards against possible abuse in custody; and impose widespread censorship. While implementing the Emergency Decree, officials have effective immunity from prosecution for most acts they commit.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster of the independent online journal Prachatai in Thailand, was arrested at Bangkok airport today on charges of insulting the monarchy. Chiranuch, more popularly known as jiew, was arrested after attending the Google Internet at liberty conference in Budapest, Hungary
“Chiranuch Premchaiporn was detained by immigration police at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 2.30 pm today upon arrival from a trip to the Internet at Liberty 2010 Conference in Hungary. The police showed an arrest warrant issued by Khon Kaen Provincial Court, and she will probably be sent to the province today. Currently, the charges are not clear.”
From Global Voices
“A group of anonymous internet activists has set up a website to display information about Thailand that comes from the whistle-blower site Wikileaks, which is blocked to some viewers in the Southeast Asian country.
The group calling itself “Wikicong” said it set up the thaileaks.info site as “a tool to break the censorship” – an apparent reference to alleged efforts by the Thai government to block access to the material, which includes a private video of the country’s Crown Prince.
Web censorship has occurred for years in Thailand. Reporters Without Borders says more than 50,000 websites or individual pages have been blocked.”
“BANGKOK — Thai authorities have used emergency powers to restrict access to the WikiLeaks whistleblower website on security grounds, an official said Wednesday, fanning controversy over Internet censorship.
The order came from the government unit set up to oversee the response to political unrest that rocked the nation’s capital earlier this year. Access to this website has been temporarily suspended under the 2005 emergency decree.
Thailand made headlines around the world in 2007 when it blocked the popular video-sharing website YouTube after material appeared mocking its revered King Bhumibol.
The country has removed tens of thousands of web pages from the Internet in recent years, mainly for insulting the monarchy, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail.”
“Freedom of speech, abuse of power by the government, and the new norms of a democratic society empowered by the Internet were all topics discussed by a wide variety of speakers at a seminar on the third anniversary of the Computer Misuse Act, often known as the Cybercrime law.
Suranand Vejjajiva, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and currently a columnist for the Bangkok Post, spoke of how bureaucracy has not realised the world had changed because of the Internet and how education and self-immunity, not control, is the way forward in a democratic society.
“Overseas, you know what is what. There is clarity, but Thai laws are unclear. The State of Emergency law gives even more power for control.”
From The Bangkok Post
“BANGKOK—Criticism over Thailand’s efforts to curb political debate online is mounting as the government restricts thousands of websites following deadly protest clashes earlier this year.
Thai authorities say they have blocked at least 40,000 Web pages this year, according to the government’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, which monitors the Internet. Free-speech activists say authorities are blocking at least 110,000 sites, based on government disclosures and spot checks online.
Many of the sites feature criticism of the government or debates about Thailand’s revered monarchy, a taboo subject here. As a result, some advocates say Thailand—long seen as a relative haven of free speech in Asia—is becoming one of the least-free states in a region that includes China and Myanmar, when it comes to discourse online.”
“Three years after its arrival, the controversial Computer Crime Act has done little to protect internet users against online threats such as hacking. Instead, it has been largely used to threaten and prosecute political dissidents.
While the demand from a circle of web masters, internet users and free speech advocates to have the act amended grows, conservatism from within the government and parliament continues to pose a challenge to their efforts to push for liberalisation of this law.
‘Under the current political climate, it seems very difficult to push for changes through legislation,’ said Supinya Klangnarong, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform.
From Bangkok Post