A 16-year-old girl from Phitsanulok has been charged with royal defamation after she was accused of insulting the monarchy on Facebook in November 2020, when she was 14 years old.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that May (pseudonym), 16, went to Mueang Phitsanulok Police Station to hear a royal defamation charge filed against her by Nangnoi Assawakittikorn, a former member of the royalist group Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims.
May was previously summoned as a witness by the police on 4 June 2021 and was questioned about the post that Nangnoi said she posted. TLHR noted that no psychologist or prosecutor was present when she was being questioned, although it is a requirement under the Juvenile and Family Court and Procedure Act.
May was not charged at the time. TLHR said that the police recommended that the public prosecutor not charge her, but the public prosecutor in Phitsanulok ordered them to do so. May later received a summons asking her to report to the police on 15 May.
The inquiry officer told May that she was accused of defaming the monarchy by making two Facebook posts about royal projects, the monarchy’s use of taxpayers’ money, and about monarchs certifying military coups.
TLHR noted that, during the interrogation, May and her parents were placed in a room with a psychologist, while the inquiry officer, the public prosecutor, and an attorney were placed in another room. The interrogation was conducted via a teleconference system and May answered the questions through the psychologist.
May denied all charges, and the inquiry officer had her fingerprinted to check her criminal record. They also asked her to report to the Phitsanulok Provincial Juvenile and Family Court in the afternoon of the same day.
Despite reporting to the police when she was summoned, the inquiry officer requested that the court order May detained, claiming that her offence was severe and the investigation is not complete. The court approved the request, telling May’s parents to file for bail.
May was later granted bail with a security of 20,000 baht. She is also required to report to a juvenile centre and court in the future.
May said that she was harassed by the police after she received the witness summons two years ago, to the point that she transferred school and moved to Bangkok. She said that Special Branch police visited her at home, while plainclothes officers were often stationed in front of her family’s house. Officers had also gone to her school asking to see her.
May is among the 19 people under the age of 18 who have been charged with royal defamation since 2020, 4 of whom were accused when they were under 15 years old.