Thailand Election Commission petitions to dissolve Move Forward Party over royal insult law challenge News
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Thailand Election Commission petitions to dissolve Move Forward Party over royal insult law challenge

Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) said in a statement on Tuesday that it will petition the country’s Constitutional Court to dissolve the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) because of the latter’s efforts to change the country’s royal insult law. The legislation, also known as Thailand’s “lese majeste” law, falls under section 112 of the Thai criminal code and criminalizes insults or threats towards the king, queen and heirs to the throne.

The EC’s decision follows a ruling by the Constitutional Court in January that considered the attempts of the MFP to change section 112 of the criminal code to be illegal, describing it as an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.  Thailand’s election body stated that the decision to dissolve the MFP was made unanimously. The Constitutional Court judges still have to decide whether to accept the EC’s petition or not, but if the MFP is disbanded, its leader could be barred from politics for ten years.

The MFP is a popular political party known for its liberal and pro-reform policies. The party won the 2023 elections but failed to appoint its leader Pita Limjaroenrat as prime minister, thus remaining in opposition.

The royal insult law in Thailand imposes a sentence between three to 15 years of prison for each insult, defamatory remark or threat towards the monarchy. This law has been widely criticized by activists and human rights groups in Thailand and abroad because it leaves room for wide interpretations by authorities. Anyone can be convicted under it, even children. Furthermore, the mentioned law has frequently been used as a political tool to suppress political dissent, opposition parties or any critics of the government.

Many Thai activists were convicted under the lese majeste law previously, including two earlier this year. The first was sentenced to 50 years in prison for “royal defamation ” due to his social media posts while the second, a human rights lawyer, was sentenced to four years in prison.