PM revokes order gagging free speech after court injunction

PM revokes order gagging free speech after court injunction

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha chairs a meeting with representatives of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and company executives tackle the Covid-19 pandemic at Government House on July 21 via video conference. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha chairs a meeting with representatives of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and company executives tackle the Covid-19 pandemic at Government House on July 21 via video conference. (Government House photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has revoked an order restricting freedom of speech under Section 9 of the emergency decree after the Civil Court issued an injunction against its use.

The PM's gag order was aimed at preventing the spread of what the government deemed misinformation and news that might "frighten" people, and threatened internet censorship.

On Friday, the Civil Court issued an injunction suspending the prime minister’s regulation,  saying it went against the law. The court said there were already laws in place that could be used for this. 

The regulation was issued in the face of mounting criticism of the government's handling of the coronavirus epidemic and vaccination programmes. 

Gen Prayut’s announcement revoking the 29th regulation issued under Section 9 of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Decree was published in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday.  

The announcement said the Civil Court had temporarily suspended the enforcement of the regulation, issued on July 29, until otherwise ordered.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said officials had not yet enforced the regulation against anyone and they could use other laws, as mentioned by the court. 

The prime minister therefore decided to revoke the regulation. 

The announcement was signed on Monday by Gen Prayut and took effect immediately.

The Human Rights Lawyer Alliance and 12 media outlets had filed a complaint with the Civil Court against Gen Prayut, also head of the CCSA.

They sought the revocation of the 29th regulation, which empowered the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to cut internet access of social media users posting content that may "frighten" people.

Media outlets that signed the petition included The Reporters, VoiceTV, The Standard, The Momentum, The Matter, Prachatai, Dem All, The People, Way Magazine, Echo and Plus Seven.


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