23 September 1997

Alert

Legal action threatened against newspaper


Incident details

legal action


(ISAI/IFEX) - On 22 September 1997, the Special Branch of the
military threatened to take legal action against the "Thai Post"
daily, claiming a headline referring to the crash of one of the
helicopters transporting the Queen of Thailand's entourage was
misleading.




The headline in the 21 September edition of the "Thai Post" read:
"Lightning and overload take lives of four thanpuyings", citing
the probable causes for the accident which killed fourteen
ranking courtiers, including four senior ladies-in-waiting, and
injured seven. So far, there has been no official announcement of
the cause of the crash.


Special Branch Commissioner Pol. Lt. Gen. Piya Jiemchaisri said
that the Special Branch would recommend that police seek a court
ruling on the newspaper on the charge of making unsubstantiated
reports. Pol. Maj. Gen. Siripong Saptanon, commander of the Legal
Division, said that although the police can no longer order the
closure of newspapers, it is empowered to petition the court to
punish the press for professional misconduct. The penalty could
range from an injunction to stop publication of defamatory
stories to a permanent closure, he said.


Jiemchaisri said that the Special Branch and the Legal Division
would soon jointly submit their findings on the "Thai Post"
report concerning the helicopter crash.


Although the degree of misconduct by the newspaper is still
unclear, it had committed a legal wrongdoing which warranted
legal action harsher than a warning, Jiemchaisri said. He
declined to speculate further about the punishment that police
would seek from the court, saying the matter would be elaborated
later by the police director general. However, according to
police sources, the newspaper could either face a relatively
light charge of publishing defamatory reports or a much harsher
allegation of treason for publishing damaging reports to the
country.


If convicted on either of the two possible charges, the courts
can order a review of the newspaper's publishing licence in
addition to handing down normal sentencing on the charges.


The "Thai Post" is known to be sharply critical of the
government, often publishing headlines with acidic and harsh
words against Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiuydh.





Source

 
More from Thailand
  • Freedom on the Net 2017: Thailand

    Military courts sentenced at least two internet users to more than a decade each in prison, one based on private chat messages criticizing royalty

  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Thailand

    In December [2016], the government approved an amendment to the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) that expanded authorities’ power to monitor internet activity and censor online content.

  • Thailand HRW Report: Events of 2016

    During the year, the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly through repressive laws such the Referendum Act, the Computer Crime Act, and article 116 of the penal code on sedition, as well as NCPO orders censoring media and preventing public gatherings of more than five people.

 
More from Asia & Pacific
  • TRUTH VS MISINFORMATION: THE COLLECTIVE PUSH BACK

    SOUTH ASIA PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2018-2019

  • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

    Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

  • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

    The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region