thai opposition lawmaker sentenced to 6 years for insulting monarchy
In a huge blow to human rights, a Thai lawmaker was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday on charges of insulting the monarchy.
According to the advocacy group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Rukchanok Srinok, 29 years old, a lawmaker with the opposition Move Forward Party, was sentenced to prison under Thailand’s laws prohibiting “insulting the monarchy.”
Human Rights Watch published a report titled, ‘Thailand: Lawmaker Sentenced for ‘Insulting Monarchy’, to condemn the arrest of Rukchanok Srinok. She was found guilty of lese majeste and breaching the Computer Crimes Act by Thailand’s Criminal Court.
Blow to human rights
The charges against Rukchanok Srinok is a blow to human rights. This violates her rights to freedom of expression protected under international human rights law.
Elaine Pearson, the Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, said, “The prosecution of an opposition member of parliament for two tweets is not only an appalling violation of free expression, but sends a chilling message to other outspoken opposition party members to keep silent.”
What happened to Rukchanok Srinok?
Rukchanok Srinok was found guilty over two social media posts made in 2020 on X, formerly Twitter. Her one post accused the government of using COVID-19 vaccine distribution to promote the monarchy’s image.
Another post was a graphically worded post made by another user. The court said it displayed “great malice” towards the king.
Thailand’s law protects the king, queen, heir and regent from criticism and carries a jail sentence of 15 years for insult to the monarchy.
The lawmaker is famous as an activist in an anti-government and youth-led democracy movement. She joined Move Forward, which campaigned to amend the royal insults law of Thailand.
She won a seat in parliament in a May general election. However, her party failed to form a government in Thailand.
Since 2020, at least 262 people have been charged with insulting the monarchy.
HRW said, “The reckless use of the criminal justice system to go after opposition party lawmakers should be taken into account.”