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Thailand jails 8 activists for sedition over Facebook posts

[JURIST] Thai police confirmed Saturday that eight people have been charged [Reuters report] with sedition and computer crimes in relation to Facebook posts in opposition of the government. The activists were detained on Wednesday for comments concerning Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha [BBC profile] and criticisms of the controversial draft constitution [text, PDF, in Thai]. Two of the activists are charged in violation of the Royal Defamation law. Shortly before the arrests were made, the Thai government effectuated a new law making it illegal to forcefully criticize the constitution.

Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over Thailand's governmental impunity since it became a military junta in May 2014. Earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed concern [press release] regarding the expanding role which the Thai military is playing in the civilian administration. Thailand will soon vote on a final draft of their constitution, and a new law places limits on advocating for or against the constitution which has led to the arrests of several human rights activists. This same month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and several other rights groups urged [JURIST report] Thailand to repeal Order Number 13/2016 [JURIST report], expressing concern that it will worsen human rights conditions.

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