The Supreme Court of Thailand on Thursday upheld the sentence of a former magazine editor who published stories criticizing the royal family. The court did curtail the sentence [AP report], so that Somyot Pruksakasemsuk would be released in 2018. The editor was convicted under Thailand’s controversial lèse majesté [BBC report] legislation. The law makes it illegal to defame the royal family. Somyot’s original sentence was handed down in 2011 and was intended to stand for 11 years.
Thailand’s policies on free speech have recently come under attention. Earlier this month human rights groups urged the Thai Army to drop defamation charges [JURIST report] against three activists. In December Thailand’s parliament passed [JURIST report] a controversial cyber-crimes bill that gave the government the right to obtain user data without court approval. In September Thailand’s Bangkok South Criminal Court found [JURIST report] British labor rights activist Andy Hall guilty of criminal defamation and violating cyber crime laws. About a week earlier the same month Thailand’s military government announced [JURIST report] that it will prosecute cases concerning national security and “royal insult” in civilian courts, as opposed to military courts where the cases have been tried since 2014.