A second 17-year-old minor, Sainam, is indicted under lèse-majesté in two cases

On 29 October 2021, the public prosecutor indicted Sainam (firstname and surname withheld), a 17-year-old, pro-democracy activist, under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) in a case of wearing crop top in the People’s Runway rally held on 29 October 2020 in Bangkok. The public prosecutor also informed Sainam that he was also indicted on 20 October 2021, without his presence in a separate lèse-majesté case, in which he was accused of spraying color on King Rama X’s portrait in a rally held on 18 July 2021. 

These indictments became the second and the third case of minors being indicted under lèse-majesté law during the resurrection of the law in November 2020, following the first indictment of a 17-year-old minor named Thanakorn (surname withheld) under lèse-majesté law on 24 May 2021.

The Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code 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. If found convicted, Sainam could face 30 years of imprisonment due to the exercise of his rights to freedom of assembly and expression. 

The case involves  a satirical fashion show rally on Bangkok’s Silom Road on 29 October 2020, in which Sainam wore a black crop top which was deemed a mock of King Rama X. Sainam was indicted under  lèse-majesté law, the Communicable Disease Act, the Emergency Decree, and alleged use of a sound amplifier without permission. The public prosecutor submitted a detention request to the Court, which was approved. The lawyer submitted a bail motion and hence he was eventually released on bail with 12,000 baht as a bond. 

Along with Sainam, Jatuphon Saeung was indicted under lèse-majesté for wearing a traditional Thai dress in the same rally and was accused of imitating the Thai Queen by wearing a dress and supposedly acting like her. The bail was granted after the indictment on 15 July 2021 with 200,000 baht as a bond.  

In the other case in which Sainam was accused of spraying color on the King Rama X’s portrait in a rally held on 18 July 2021,  Sainam turned himself in on 24 July at Nangloeng Police Station, Bangkok, according to the arrest warrant issued by the Central Juvenile and Family Court dated 22 July. The police submitted a bail request to the Court citing the severe penalty of the charge. The Court approved the detention and granted bail with 20,000 baht as a bond. On 20 October 2021, the public prosecutor indicted Sainam without his presence under lèse-majesté law, Article 217 (arson) and 358 (depreciation of value) of the Thai Criminal Code, and the Emergency Decree. The indictment was made without his presence as he was granted bail during the police investigation phase.

After the indictments, the Central Juvenile and Family Court appointed an inquiry for the former case on 20 December 2021 at 8.30.00 hr. And the latter case on 15 November 2021 at 8.30 hr. Currently, at least 257 minors are facing lawsuits with security-related charges, particularly the alleged violation of the Emergency Decree and lèse-majesté law, pertaining to their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Of those, at least 12 minors, including a 14-year-old minor, were charged with the lèse-majesté law.  Two minors in three cases are now in the trial phase. For the other minor, Thanakorn was appointed for an inquiry on 20 December 2021. It is highly concerning as the Public Prosecutor could continue to indict other lèse-majesté law cases.

Read more:

The Number of Prosecutions under “Lèse Majesté” in 2020-2021

First minor prosecuted with Thai lèse-majesté law in 2021

Overview of cases against youth political activists: At least 43 persons prosecuted