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23 May 2019

The Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva

Thai Govt. responds to joint communication of UN Human Right's Council's Special Procedures on SLAPPs in Thailand

The Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva presents its compliments to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and, with reference to the joint communications from Human Rights Council special procedures Ref. ALTHA 3/2018 dated 10 May 2018 and Ref. ALTHA 1/2019 dated 30 January 2019, has the honour to transmit herewith the Royal Thai Government's response to the said joint communications...

Thailand's defamation laws, both in principle and in practice, are consistent  with  the ICCPR because:

  1. Under Thailand's jurisprudence, general defamation or libel (published false statement) aim to protect people's legitimate interest and reputation. They are not to be misused,  abused, exploited or subjected to hatred. At the same time, it is important to maintain a balance with the provisions to safeguard those accused of defamation who act in good faith including defense through proven truth or fair comment on any person or thing subjected to public criticism.This underlying principle is evident in the courts' reasoning in both civil and criminal defamation lawsuits.
  2. In all criminal proceedings, the law requires all criminal cases initiated by a private plaintiff to be proved as a 'prima facie' case at a preliminary hearing before the case's admission  to trial. This condition will help screen out any frivolous or bad faith lawsuits. In addition, as an effort of the Court of Justice to establish an overarching tool to protect the right to freedom of expression against Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP), a new Section 161/1 of the Criminal Procedure Code has taken effect on 20 March 2019 to strengthen the court's power to dismiss any criminal case at the filing stage of the lawsuit if it appears to the court that the cause of action stems from ill intention (1) to harass (2) to take advantage over a person (3) to gain  any unlawful benefits or (4) to achieve any corrupt underlying objectives. In parallel, the Court of Justice has also proposed a new Section 165/2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which came to effect on 20 February 2019, to allow the accused to present legal and evidentiary arguments during a preliminary examination of the Court where they previously could not do so. Section 165/2 also enables the Court to play a more active role by having the power to summon witnesses and evidence proposed by the accused as the Court's witnesses.