First minor prosecuted with Thai lèse-majesté law in 2021

On 24 May 2021, the Central Juvenile and Family Court informed the lèse-majesté indictment dated 9 April 2021 to Thanakorn (surname withheld), aka Petch, a 17-year-old (as of the incident day) pro-democracy, LGBTQ+ human rights defender, making this the first case in Thailand to indict minors under the Article 112 of the Criminal Code (lèse-majesté law) for political expression after the re-enforcement of lèse-majesté law in November 2020. The law stipulates criminal offense for those “defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent,” with a three to fifteen years imprisonment sentence.

The case stems from the 6 December 2020 rally held at Wong Wian Yai, Bangkok, as Thanakorn participated in the political assembly in which he gave a speech criticizing the performance of the current government. This is the similar case to 30-year-old Chukiat Sangwong and 21-year-old Wanwalee Thammasattayam who were indicted on 27 April 2021 and were detained while awaiting trial. In addition, the complaint was initiated by fellow citizens.

The Central Juvenile and Family Court Court scheduled the date for review of the evidence on 11 June 2021 at 9.00 hr. Earlier, on 11 January 2021, Thanakorn had acknowledged the charge at the Buppharam Metropolitan Police Station, Bangkok. The inquiry officers later brought him to the Court and submitted a detention application. However, Thanakorn was granted bail with 5,000 Baht as surety, citing that he acknowledged the charge regarding the arrest warrant, posed no flight risk, and the heightened spread of COVID-19.

So far, Thanakorn has been prosecuted with five cases under the security-related acts, including two cases under lèse-majesté. Currently, he is indicted under the Emergency Decree and lèse-majesté in two cases. According to the TLHR’s documentation on juvenile prosecutions, from 18 July 2020 to 24 May 2021, at least 41 minors have been charged in 41 cases pertaining to the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Of those, at least six minors, including 14-year-old minor, have been prosecuted with the lèse-majesté law in six cases. It is highly concerning as the Public Prosecutor could continue to indict other lèse-majesté cases.

For more information for the cases of minors prosecuted under the lèse-majesté law, please refer to the table below:

No.Date of incident Incriminating offenseName of the alleged offenderCharge(s)Case status and Schedules
1.December 6, 2020Joining the #Dec6 rally (in Thai: #ม็อบ6ธันวา) at Wongwian Yai Thanakorn [surname withheld] 

(a 17-year-old youth)

Article 112 of the Criminal Code11 June 2021 at 9.00 hr., pretrial, review of the evidence
2.December 20, 2020Joined the #LetsWearCropTops parade (in Thai: #แต่งครอปท็อป) at Siam Paragon shopping mall Thanakorn [surname withheld] 

(a 17-year-old youth)

Article 112 of the Criminal Code The indictment was postponed from 20 May 2021 to June 2021.
3.December 20, 2020Joined the #LetsWearCropTops parade  at Siam Paragon shopping mall “Nat”, a 17-year-old youthArticle 112 of the Criminal CodeThe indictment was postponed from 20 May 2021 to June 2021.
4.March 20, 2021Expression towards the portrait in front of the Supreme Court at #20Mar.rallyHaru (name changed for confidentiality reasons) Article 112 of the Criminal Code

Violation of Emergency Decree 

The Communicable Disease Act

Article 215 of the Criminal Code

Article 216  of the Criminal Code

In an investigation stage. 

They were arrested without the arrest warrant on 20 March 2021 before being taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1. The police officers scheduled the parents at the Central Juvenile and Family Court to examine the arrest on 21 March 2021. The Court granted bail with 20,000 baht as surety. 

5.Spring (name changed for confidentiality reasons)
6.October 29, 2020Partaking in ‘Commoners’ Runway’ at the #Oct29 rally, in front of the Sri MahaMariamman Temple, SilomSaichon [name changed for confidentiality reasons]

(a 16-year-old youth) 

Article 112 of the Criminal CodeThe public prosecutor  has not indicted since 29 March 2021.

The Attorney General and the public prosecutor will further consider to indict him at any time. 

7.January 14, 2021Joining the mass at Klong Luang Police Station after the arrest of Sirichai according to the warrant in lese majeste charge Phum Hua Lamphong (a 17-year-old youth)Article 112 of the Criminal Code

Violation of Emergency Decree 

The Communicable Disease Act

Contempt of Cop

In the public prosecutor stage.

Already acknowledged charges at Khlong Luang Police Station on February 5, 2021 and 14 March 2021. 

 

Related: A statistical profile of minors charged for political expression and protest, 2020-2021