World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Thailand, 5 February 2013

Protest Campaign - Thailand, 5 February 2013

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HE Ms Yingluck Shinawatra
Prime Minister of Thailand


Tuesday 5 February 2013


Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our concern over the nine-year prison sentence imposed on former magazine editor Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, for violating Thailand’s lèse-majesté under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, and the additional one-year prison sentence imposed under Thailand’s criminal defamation laws.

According to reports, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, former editor of the magazine, The Voice of Taksin, was sentenced to nine years in prison for publishing articles that “insulted” the king, with an additional one year for libelling a general in the Thai armed forces.

We note there is an ongoing debate within Thailand on amending the lèse-majesté laws but that some international agencies have called for its repeal, arguing it is in conflict with international standards of press freedom and freedom of expression.

Thailand is a leader in the region with its flourishing and vibrant independent media scene, and WAN-IFRA will be holding our 65th World Newspaper Congress, 20th World Editors Forum and 23rd World Newspaper Advertising Forum on 2-5 June 2013 in Bangkok.

We are therefore respectfully writing to express our concern about lèse-majesté and criminal defamation, which can stifle the development of a free and prosperous society by promoting self-censorship amongst those critical of members of the royal family and others who hold positions of authority, including those in the armed forces.

We also note that defamation is considered a criminal offence under the Criminal Code. We firmly believe that criminal law is a wholly inappropriate means of dealing with the issue of defamation. We believe that a civil award of reasonable damages is adequate and appropriate relief in all proven cases of defamation. Furthermore, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights considers that “detention, as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion is one of the most reprehensible ways to enjoin silence and, as a consequence, a grave violation of human rights”.

While we are sensitive to Thailand’s cultural traditions, we respectfully call on your government to do its utmost to repeal the lèse-majesté laws and those of criminal defamation, and to immediately release Mr Pruksakasemsuk and other journalists, citizens and activists being held under lèse-majesté laws.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience, and, in the run-up to the World Newspaper Congress, of working closely with your government to ensure a strong, independent and vibrant media in Thailand.

Yours sincerely,


Jacob Mathew
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers 


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum




WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.



Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2013-02-05 16:32

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...