The Truth About Slander and Libel Laws in Thailand
Slander and libel laws differ greatly around the world and what might land you in jail in one country could be perfectly legal in another. Here in Thailand, slander and libel are taken seriously. Any record that one person has worked to damage the reputation of a company or individual can be severely punishable.
Here’s what you need to know to stay on the right side of Thailand’s slander and libel Laws:
The Computer Crimes Act
The most enforceable parts of slander and libel laws come from the Computer Crimes Act. Passed in 2007 and revised recently, the law says that, not only is the person who writes defaming comments accountable for them – but so is any website, webmaster or anyone else considered an “intermediary” of the information who does nothing to report it or remove it.
So, be careful about “liking” or “sharing” possibly objectionable material as you don’t want to be stuck at the end of some nasty litigation in Thailand yourself!
History of the Law
The law was originally put into effect to protect the monarchy. It was enacted so that the police could hold anyone accountable that spoke out against the royals. They were trying to stop people from sharing potentially unflattering or harmful words about the King and his family.
Laws that protect the monarchy from defamation are also sometimes called lèse majesté.
Interpretation of the Law
The law that was designed to protect the monarchy has been interpreted and reinterpreted in so many different ways that it has become a the go-to law to invoke when cases involving slander and libel.
Prachatai Case: In this case, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster of independent news site prachatai.com, was accused of breaking the Computer Crimes Act. It was alleged that she did not delete lèse majesté online comments from her website quickly enough. The issue at stake in this case was how long it had taken her to remove the comments (20 days). A point made during the case was that, by leaving the comments on your site, the site owner seems to be endorsing them in some way. Premchaiporn was found guilty but given a suspended sentence.
Thai Navy Case: The Thai Navy claimed that the Computer Crimes Act had been violated when PhuketWan, a Phuket news blog, published an article alleging that Thai Naval security forces aided human traffickers in smuggling Rohingya people across the border for profits.
The editors of the site were found not guilty this month after two years of court proceedings. Their reporting about the Thai Navy and the Rohingya people went on to be part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning story for Reuters.
The lesson to be learned about the Computer Crimes Act is this: be careful! Think twice before posting information or comments on the internet. You might think that you are innocently responding to a news story or commenting on a blog post and, the next thing you know, somebody takes a screenshot and goes down to the police station and you’re in hot water!
Have a question about the Computer Crimes Act, Libel and Slander Laws or Litigation in Thailand? Get in touch with the team at Silk Legal for a consultation about your rights today!