THAILAND: Reporter charged with sedition and computer-related crime; Five students and academics summoned for organizing an international conference

Khaosod reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk charged with sedition and computer-related crime

On 8 August 2017, Mr Pravit Rojanaphruk, senior reporter at Khaosod English, reported to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to hear his charges in two separate cases. First, Pravit is accused of sedition offence under Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code and computer-related crime under the Computer Crime Act B.E.2560 (2017), for allegedly publishing two posts on Facebook in February 2016. Reportedly, the posts mentioned the officials contacting him and his comments on the then draft Constitution and authorities performance.

Further, the inquiry officer stated that Pravit would be informed of sedition offence and violation of Computer Crime Act, for allegedly publishing other five Facebook posts. However, the inquiry officer could not inform which part of the posts were false and in violation of the Section 14 (3) of the Computer Crime Act. Pravit, therefore, will be informed of his charges on 18 August 2017 at the TCSD.

Pravit is subject to a maximum of 7 years’ imprisonment in each case, amounting to a maximum of 14 years jail term in total. The Thai justice system registers that the maximum penalty of each case is subject to the section with the highest sentence.

The relevant sections of the law under which he has been charged:

(Thai Criminal Code) Section 116 Whoever makes an appearance to the public by words, writings or any other
means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in
1. To bring about a change in the Laws of the Country or the Government by the use of force or violence;
2. To raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the
country; or
3. To cause the people to transgress the laws of the Country, shall be punished with imprisonment not
exceeding seven years.

(Computer Crime Act) Section 14 Any person committing the following offences shall be punishable by an
imprisonment up to five years and a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand baht, or both.
4. Import into a computer system any computer data which is an offence against national security or is an
offence per the Penal Code’s anti-terrorism provision;
5. Disseminate or forward any computer data when being aware that it was the computer data as described in
(1), (2), (3) or (4).

Five students and academics summoned for alleged involvement in Thai Studies forum

On 12 August 2017, Mr Teeramon Bua-ngam – graduate student at Chiang Mai University and editor of Prachatham News, received a summons scheduling him to report to Changpuak police station in Chiang Mai province on 15 August 2017. The summons also includes four other alleged offenders: Dr Chayan Wattanaputi, Mr Chaipong Samnieng, Ms Pakawadee Weerapaspong and Mr Nontawat Machai. The allegations state that they had allegedly violated Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order no.3/B.E.2558 (2015), banning political gathering of five or more persons, as a result of their involvement in organizing the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai province earlier in July.

The summons initially scheduled the suspects to report on 23 August, but was crossed and rewritten to 15 August. However, lawyers had contacted authorities and postponed the reporting to 21 August 2017 at Changpuak police station in Chiang Mai province.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) urge the international community to closely observe the case and be present at every stage of the proceedings in relation to human rights violations related to the exercise of right to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. 

Best regards,

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.