Thailand: Somyos to challenge constitutionality of lese majeste
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Thailand: Somyos to challenge constitutionality of lese majeste

BP is aware that Da Torpedo challenged the constitutionality of her closed trial, but BP is not aware of any person challenging the constitutionality of lese majeste before. The Nation:

Karom Polpornklang and Suwit Thongnuan argued that the penalty under lese majeste law is too harsh and undemocratic, as it is more severe than that for other civil defamation cases. With a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years under the lese majeste law, compared to three years for an ordinary defamation case, the current law is tantamount to placing the monarchy “above the constitution”, the lawyers argued.

The lawyers urged in their petition letter that Thailand needs to bring itself in line with international standards, “otherwise [Thailand] will not be accepted among civilised nations, which would be detrimental… to the Thai justice system.”

“We’re doing this not just for Somyos but for others,” Karom told reporters.

If the Constitution Court accepted the petition, it might take up to a year for a ruling and Somyos could end up in jail longer, as he has already been denied bail seven times and spent nearly a year under detention.

Somyos told The Nation yesterday that he has decided the petition is worth trying.

“It’s for posterity. I’m just a scapegoat,” said Somyos.

BP: You can see the reason why so few challenges. It will mean extra time in jail including by the estimate of up to one year. Principles have a price and this is normally why  bail is rarely given for lese majeste offences as it incentivises the choice to plead guilty and get a pardon. Will the court even accept the case? Of course, if the court finds the punishment excessive that would be a convenient way to amend the law, but without some signal that seems unlikely.

btw, the recently appointed Permanent Secretary of the Office of PM has some interesting comments – compared with what we normally from civil servants testifying – about lese majeste…..*

*His thesis was on “A constitutional legal aspect of the king’s prerogatives” – see details here (page 36).