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British MPs voice concern over Thai webmaster trial

03 February 2011

Originally published at Siam Voices on February 2, 2011

British MPs have signed a motion voicing their concern over the trials against embattled Prachatai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who faces charges for violation of the Computer Crime Act and also lèse majesté. The Early Day Motion (EDM), proposed by Labour MP Tom Watson, warns that Chiranuch’s case may threaten freedom of speech in Thailand and calls for the UK government to review it. The proposal was signed by 11 MPs from all three major parties. For more details on Chiranuch’s case, see previous coverage hereherehere and here. Here’s the notion in full:

That this House notes with concern the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the Director of Thai news website Prachatai, who is on trial in Thailand under its Computer Crime Act for not removing third party comments criticising the monarchy from her website quickly enough and who, if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in jail; believes that this action threatens Thailand’s reputation for tolerance of free expression and risks creating a climate of fear; further notes with concern that this particular law has led to thousands of websites being blocked in Thailand; opposes web blocking and censorship; and calls on the government of Thailand to review the situation.

Trial Of Chiranuch Premchaiporn“, EDM number 198 in 2010-2011, proposed by Tom Watson on 10/06/2010

It has to be mentioned that the EDMs play generally a minor role with a low number of MPs signing them. Nevertheless this is, to this author’s personal knowledge, the first public statement of Western politicians over this particular case and the general situation of freedom of speech in Thailand.

h/t to fellow Siam Voices writer Pokpong Lawansiri

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