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Opposition lawmakers propose new bill with respect to online defamation

(SEAPA/IFEX) - On 18 November 2008, draft legislation aimed at penalising people making defamatory remarks online against the monarchy was proposed by a group of members of parliament (MP) from the opposition Democrat Party, media reports said.

"The Nation" also reported that the proposed law would punish those who wrongly accuse or attempt to frame others for such a wrongdoing.

This development came as the incidence of defamatory or contemptuous remarks against the monarchy has reportedly risen.

The law's proponents explained that, at present, there is no law that deals with offenders of lese majeste (committing an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state) through modern electronic means, such as on Internet websites and in computer systems.

Under the bill, anyone uploading inaccurate content about the monarchy on the Internet or a computer system faces a jail term of three to 20 years or a fine ranging from Bt200,000 (approx. US$5650) to Bt800,000 (approx. US$22,600).

Those who upload defamatory or contemptuous content about the monarchy would face a prison term of five to 20 years or a fine of between Bt300,000 (approx. US$8,500) and Bt800,000.

The proposed law will punish anyone falsely accusing others of such wrongdoings with prison terms of three to 20 years and a fine ranging from Bt200,000 to Bt800,000.

The bill also seeks to punish people hiring others to do the job for them, in addition to Internet service providers or computer system administrators who fail to cooperate and repeat offenders.

The main proponent of the new legislation, Democrat MP Piraphan Saliratviphak, earlier proposed amendments to the Penal Code and the Computer Act provisions regarding lese majeste.

For further information on a previous attempt to extend lese majeste laws, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/86999

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