Thai lawmaker sentenced to six years in prison for showing disrespect to the monarchy

A Thai MP known as “Ice”, Rukchanok Srinork, has been found to have violated Thailand’s lese-majesty and computer crime laws on social media. As a result, she has been sentenced to six years in prison. Rukchanok, a former activist, criticized the monarchy’s decision to award a Covid-19 vaccine contract to a company owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn. She plans to appeal against the sentence but has been granted bail on the condition that she refrains from similar activities. Thailand’s lese-majesty laws are among the strictest in the world, with criticism of the monarchy potentially leading to up to 15 years imprisonment for each charge. Rukchanok’s party, Move Forward, was the only party to pledge reform of these laws.

During the youth-led protests in 2020, Rukchanok was an activist who advocated for democratic changes and reforms to the royal family. Despite facing opposition, her party won the most votes in this year’s election but was prevented from forming a government. Move Forward and its former leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, are also facing legal challenges related to their stance on lese-majesty reform.

Since the emergence of the protest movement in 2020, at least 259 people have been charged with insulting the monarchy. Rukchanok, in a social media post prior to the verdict, expressed her support for reforming the law in line with international democratic principles while acknowledging the problematic nature of section 112 of the criminal code.

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