NHRC says it's time to lift 'fake news' edict

NHRC says it's time to lift 'fake news' edict

An order related to "fake news" issued under the emergency decree to curb Covid-19 restricts people's freedom of expression and should be lifted, according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The commission agreed with a petition submitted last August by six local media organisations asking the rights body to examine what they alleged are restrictions on media freedom, commissioner Wasan Paileeklee said.

They were the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Society for Online News Providers and the National Union of Journalists.

They objected to Announcement No 27 signed by the prime minister and issued last July 10.

It banned the distribution of "fake news" causing panic in a way that undermines the government's handling of the pandemic.

The NHRC agreed it restricted the media's freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution.

The wording is unclear and can be interpreted differently so the NHRC has called on the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to revoke it, Mr Wasan said.

The announcement stipulates that: "Presenting or disseminating news via newspapers or other media with messages that may cause panic among the public or has the intention to distort information that causes misunderstandings in emergency situations that affect the security of the state, peace and order, or decent public morals constitutes a violation of Section 9 under the emergency decree."

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