A 15-year-old girl who had spent 50 days in detention on a charge of royal defamation walked free on Thursday afternoon after a court ordered her release, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.
Police from the Samran Rat station had gone to the Central Juvenile and Family Court on Thursday morning to seek the further detention of Thanalop “Yok” Phalanchai while they investigate the case further, but the court rejected the request. It said the police already had enough material to support their investigation.
She was released shortly after 4pm from the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Center for Girls in Nakhon Pathom, where she had been held since March 29. She was greeted on the grounds by a small crowd of cheering supporters.
The case of Yok has been the most high-profile one among the 19 that involve suspects under age 18 charged with lese-majeste under Section 112 of the Criminal Code. She is the only one to have been detained for such a long period, though she is not the youngest.
A teenage girl from Phitsanulok, who was released on bail following a court appearance this week, was 14 years and one month old when the offence with which she is charged was committed, TLHR said.
Yok was arrested on March 28, the same day that a 24-year-old man was caught spray-painting a “No 112” message on the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.
Police said at the time that they had a warrant to arrest the girl, who was accused of insulting the monarchy during a rally in October 2022 in front of Bangkok City Hall. She was 14 at the time.
The Central Juvenile and Family Court issued a statement last week in response to criticism of her detention. It said that the girl’s mother had failed to appear for her bail, which led to her extended stay in the juvenile home.
TLHR also took issue with the court’s contention that the accused had “rejected justice” when she refused to take part in court proceedings, turning her back on the judge.
“Because Yok rejected only the justice system, she did not reject justice,” it said.
According to data from TLHR to April 30 this year, 1,902 people have been prosecuted for political participation and expression since the beginning of the Free Youth pro-democracy protests in July 2020. At least 242 are facing lese-majeste charges and 130 have been charged with sedition.