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Thailand

Key Developments

» Online repression intensifies; thousands of pages censored, editor on trial.

» Violent trend continues with one fatality; two 2010 killings unresolved.

Journalists faced significant restrictions, particularly online, despite democratic elections and a change in government. Outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva cracked down on partisan media, shutting radio stations and detaining Somyot Preuksakasemsuk, editor of a newsmagazine aligned with the anti-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. New premier Yingluck Shinawatra wielded the country's strict lèse majesté laws by censoring websites and Facebook pages, and harassing Internet users who posted online material critical of the monarchy. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, editor of the news website Prachatai, faced a possible 50 years in prison under the draconian 2007 Computer Crimes Act for anonymous anti-royal remarks that were posted to one of her site's comment sections. The case was pending in late year. A reporter was killed in September while covering bombings in the country's insurgency-plagued southern region, a fatality that continued the country's recent spate of media deaths. The government opened a new inquiry into the fatal shooting of Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto during 2010 protests in Bangkok, but authorities left unresolved the case of a second international journalist killed in the 2010 unrest, Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi.



  • 1

    Imprisoned on December 1, 2011
  • 9

    Journalists killed since 1992
  • 74,686

    Blocked Web pages
  • 875

    Lèse majesté cases
  • 16th

    World ranking, Facebook use
 

A clampdown on partisan media and anti-royal commentary saw the jailing of Somyot. With his imprisonment, Thailand appeared on CPJ's annual prison census for the first time.

Imprisoned in Thailand on CPJ's annual census:
 

At least nine journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in Thailand since 1992. Fatalities have increased in recent years along with rising political tensions, CPJ research shows. In 2011, newspaper reporter Phamon Phonphanit died from severe burns suffered while covering bomb blasts in Sungai Kolok.

Work-related fatalities in recent years:
 

The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology censored nearly 75,000 Web pages between the enactment of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and the end of 2010, according to Thailand's independent iLaw project. More than 75 percent of the blocked pages were said to contain anti-royal content.


Growing online censorship, as recorded by iLaw:

Year

2007
2008
2009
2010

Court Orders

1
13
64
39

Censored Web pages

2
2,071
28,705
43,908

 

The number of lèse majesté complaints filed to lower courts has spiked since a 2006 military coup, according to Thai court records. Thailand's lèse majesté laws prohibit criticism of the royal family and set prison penalties up to 15 years, making them among the most severe in the world.

Lèse majesté cases filed 2006-10:
 

As authorities ramped up website censorship, bloggers and alternative news providers migrated to platforms such as Facebook. With more than 12 million users, Thailand ranked 16th globally in total Facebook usage, according to Socialbakers data.

Facebook use in the region:
Indonesia: 40.8 million users
India: 38
Philippines: 26.7
Thailand: 12.4
Malaysia: 11.7
Taiwan: 10.7
Australia: 10.6


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