Police officers run during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 15, 2020. The Thai government issued an emergency decree censoring press coverage of the protests. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Thailand issues emergency decree, nationwide restrictions on press

Bangkok, October 15, 2020 — The Thai government should immediately drop its emergency decree restricting the ability of the press to cover protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At 4 a.m. today, the Thai government issued a decree limiting public assembly and instituting a nationwide ban on publishing and broadcasting news that could incite fear, according to news reports. The decree was issued amid pro-democracy protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and for reforms to the monarchy, according to those reports.

“Thai authorities should immediately revoke today’s emergency decree, which amounts to severe censorship of the nation’s press,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “There is no legitimate reason for Thai authorities to block coverage of the ongoing protests in the country, and the press must be allowed to work freely.”

The order comes on top of a state of emergency, imposed since March, that gave authorities arbitrary powers to curb reporting in the name of containing the coronavirus pandemic, as CPJ documented at the time.