UN experts disturbed by deluge of criminal cases against Thai monarchy critics

Bangkok: A panel of UN human rights experts said on Monday they were alarmed by the increasingly severe use of an archaic law punishing insults to Thailand’s royal family.

“We are profoundly disturbed by the reported rise in the number of lese-majeste prosecutions since late 2020 and the harsher prison sentences,” the experts said.

They cited the case of Anchan Preelert, 60, who was sentenced to 43 years in prison for posting critical audio clips on social media. She was initially handed an 87-year jail term that was halved after she confessed.

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“We call on the authorities to revise and repeal the lese-majeste laws, to drop charges against all those who are currently facing criminal prosecution and release those who have been imprisoned,” they said.

The number of criminal cases on charges of disrespecting the king shot up after crown prince Vajiralongkorn took the throne in 2019.

Thousands of Thai protesters defied the strict law last year to criticize the new king for appropriating royal assets that belonged de jure to the Thai people and demand that the monarchy be reformed.

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