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Thailand v. Sasiwimol Pathomwongfa-ngarm

Closed Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    August 7, 2015
  • Outcome
    Imprisonment
  • Region & Country
    Thailand, Asia and Asia Pacific
  • Judicial Body
    Military Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law
  • Themes
    Defamation / Reputation
  • Tags
    Facebook

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Sasiwimol Patomwongfa-ngam posted 6 messages on Facebook which was considered by the court to defame the monarchy. She was sentenced to 56 years in prison for the actions on August 7, 2015. The sentence was halved to 28 years due to a guilty plea.

Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.


Facts

On September 27, 2014 a group that called itself “Facebook Chiang Mai” reported to police at Chiang Mai Police Station about the materials posted by the Facebook account, Rungnapa Kampichai, which can be considered as lèse-majesté. The materials were also posted in the same month. The name Rungnapa Kampichai turned out to be Sasiwimol’s former husband’s new wife. Rungnapa contacted Facebook Chiang Mai and claimed that it was not her who posted the messages. Sasiwimol said that an acquaintance of her offered to help spreading malicious information on Rungnapa as a revenge. According to her, the person then used her computer to create an email and a Facebook account under Rungnapa’s name. Sasiwimol claimed that she was not the person who posted the content, and she does not even know the password to access to it. She also did not know that the materials considered as lèse-majesté would be posted by the acquaintance. The person could not be reached or contacted after the incident occurred [1].

The police visited Sasiwimol at her home in September 2014 and she was informed about the incident[2].  The police persuaded her to acknowledge the posts and told that there would not be any serious repercussions [3]. She followed the suggestion without knowing the seriousness of the Article 112 of the Criminal Code as well as the legal procedures. On February 13, 2015 Sasiwimol was informed about the charges. She was sent to the Chiang Mai Women’s Prison on the same date to be remanded [4]. The bail which was submitted four times was rejected [5].

The Military Court in Chiang Mai gave 8 years for each of the seven lèse-majesté counts she was alleged of committing which made a total of 56 years imprisonment on August 7, 2015. The sentence was halved to 28 years as she pleaded guilty [6]. The trial was tried in camera [7]. Sasiwimol cannot appeal the decision due to the posts had existed during the time martial law was imposed.

[1] Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. “Story of Sasiwimon: Mother of Two Given 28 Years by the Military Court.” Prachatai, August 19, 2015.

[2] “Military Court in Northern Thailand Holds Lèse-majesté Deposition Hearing in Camera.” Prachatai, June 10, 2015.

[3] Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. “Story of Sasiwimon: Mother of Two Given 28 Years by the Military Court.” Prachatai, Op. Cit.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Military Court Sends Mother of Two to 28 Years for Lèse-majesté.” Prachatai, August 7, 2015. http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/5377

[6] Ibid.

[7] Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. “Story of Sasiwimon: Mother of Two Given 28 Years by the Military Court.” Prachatai, Op. Cit.


Decision Overview

Unfortunately that the official court’s document is not received, and the content of the posts cannot be revealed due to the harshness of lèse-majesté law in Thailand that prohibits the repetition of anything that is considered as lèse-majesté. The length of the sentence that Sasiwimol received has raised concerns among human rights group both internationally and nationally over the use of lèse-majesté law in Thailand. Even though the official court’s document is not received, the decision of the judges over this kind of case is nothing new. The ruling always refers to public morals when it cannot be proved how the offence affects as claimed. The reason that she cannot the ruling is because the Military Court considered that the posts which were posted online were done during the time the martial law was imposed. When the martial law is declared, it made the military court during abnormal times works in a sing-tired system in which an appeal is not possible.


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

It cannot be confirmed whether what she said was true that she did not post the messages. Even though it was really her who posted the messages, she should not be imprisoned because of the her actions as it is the exercising of freedom of expression.

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Thai., Crim. Code art. 112
  • Thai., Computer Crime Act art. 14

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

This case did not set a binding or persuasive precedent either within or outside its jurisdiction. The significance of this case is undetermined at this point in time.

Official Case Documents

Reports, Analysis, and News Articles:


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