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Paris, 2 July 2009 : The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expresses its deepest concern regarding the increased use of lèse majesté law in Thailand. The Organization already drew the attention of the Thai authorities to restrictions to the right to freedom of expression and to the political implications of the abusive use of the legislation on lèse majesté.

According to the information received, the whole board of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) (1) has been accused of committing lèse majesté, a crime with a maximum jail sentence of 15 years. For the first time in its five-decade history, a FCCT board will be under police investigation for lèse majesté. The lèse majesté complaint against the 13-member board was filed at Lumpini police station on Tuesday night, June 30th 2009. The complaint was filed by a translator and a critic of ousted and convicted former premier Thaksin, accusing the board that the decision to sell DVD copies of a controversial speech held at the club back in 2007 constitutes a lèse majesté crime.

The complaint is reportedly based on the allegation that the whole board "may be acting in an organised fashion and the goal may be to undermine the credibility of the high institution of Thailand". In reaction to the complaint, FCCT president Marwaan Macan-Markar issued a statement saying: "The FCCT will cooperate with such an inquiry".

On 1st July 2009, FIDH made public a briefing note on the restrictions to freedom of expression through the notorious Lèse Majesté Law (available on FIDH website:, following two research visits, conducted in Bangkok, in February and in May 2009. FIDH had met with several representatives of civil society, academics, activists and human rights associations, as well as the Thai authorities, in particular members of the National Human Rights Commission and high officials of the Ministry of Justice.

FIDH expresses its deepest concern regarding the abusive use of the law on lèse majesté, in particular the filing of complaints by any Thai citizen rather than by the person targeted. The Organisation urges the authorities to ensure, as an immediate step that the law is not used to curb the right to freedom of expression. More generally, FIDH calls upon the government of Thailand to reform the legislation on the lèse majesté crime in conformity with international human rights standards and principles.

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