[JURIST] The Thailand Criminal Court on Monday sentenced two activists to 30 months in prison for insulting the monarchy under the country’s strict lese-majeste laws [BBC backgrounder]. The two activists [Bloomberg report] are a 24-year old female and 27-year-old male who were involved in a play called “The Wolf Bride” at Bangkok’s Thamnast University [official website] in October 2013. The play, about a king and his adviser, was staged in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the student-led uprising against military rule. The lese-majeste laws mandate up to 15 years in prison for “defaming, insulting, or threatening the King, Queen, heirs, or apparent regent.” The pair received five-year prison sentences that were reduced in exchange for pleading guilty. The military-run state has made it a top priority to prosecute lese-majeste laws, stating that they are a matter of national security. The laws allow for anyone to report a lese-majeste violation, which critics claim leaves the laws open to abuses.
Lese-majeste laws continue to be enforced in Thailand despite international criticism. In November a military court in Thailand sentenced [JURIST report] web editor Nut Rungwong to four-and-a-half years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a lese-majeste offense for an article he published five years ago that insulted the king. Earlier in November a military court sentenced [JURIST report] student Akkaradet Eiamsuwan to two-and-a-half years in prison for insulting the king in a Facebook post. The number of lese-majeste cases has risen to a point where in August the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed [JURIST report] concern that the increasing prosecutions have limited citizens’ right to free expression.