Thailand Presses Laos Over Royal Insult Suspects
BY : PANARAT THEPGUMPANAT AND PATPICHA TANAKASEMPIPAT
JANUARY 27, 2017
Bangkok. Thailand's top security officer will go to neighboring Laos to push for the extradition of critics of the Thai monarchy, Thailand's defense minister said on Thursday (26/01).
Insulting the monarchy carries a jail term of up to 15 years for each offence in Thailand and prosecutions have risen since the death last October of the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
His son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has taken the throne.
The government has asked seven countries, including Laos, to extradite a total of 19 suspects accused of the crime of lese majeste. None has said it would.
General Thawip Netniyom, the head of the Thai National Security Council, would travel to Laos to follow up on the request, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters.
"Laos has responded very well to all our requests," Prawit told reporters, adding that Thailand had given details of the suspects to the Lao government.
Prawit did not identify the suspects in Laos or say how many there were or elaborate on the accusations they faced.
Laos has only a tenth Thailand's population of over 65 million and its economy is barely one fortieth the size.
Since taking power in 2014, the Thai junta has taken a tough stance on dissenters.
The government has been criticized by the international community over prison sentences for people found guilty of violating the lese majeste law.
The government has urged citizens to report cases of lese majeste to authorities and asked internet service providers to monitor and block inappropriate material.
Thailand thanked Laos for blocking a social media channel critical of the monarchy late last year, but the channel has since resumed.