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TJA condemns Special Branch Police for misuse of press law

(TJA/IFEX) - The following is an 8 August 2001 TJA press release:

Thai Journalists Condemn Special Branch Police for Misusing Draconian Press Law

Bangkok, 8 August 2001

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) today condemned the Special Branch Police Division (SBP) for its warning issued against two Thai-language daily newspapers, Thairath and Krungthep Turakij. In its warning, SBP said that the two dailies had violated Article 36 of the 1941 Press Act by publishing a story they deemed to be irresponsible and damaging to Thai society.

The story mentioned by SBP was the translated version of a news report by Reuters news agency on Prime Minister Thaksin Shinnawatra's Constitutional Court trial over the accused asset hiding attempt.

In response, TJA issued a statement saying that the SPB warning was invalid as it went against Article 39 under the current Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.

"SBP should stop all activities that violate the 1997 Constitution, and start to show its respect to Thai citizens' rights over free expression," it noted.

TJA also called for an immediate abolishment of the draconian 1941 Press Act by the government, since the law is explicitly against the Constitution's core principle.

"In addition, the government should have a clear policy to prevent the media-related government agencies such as the SBP, the Public Relations Department (PRD) and the Mass Communication Organization of Thailand (MCOT) from violating Article 39 and Article 41 of the Constitution, which guarantee the rights to free statement and protect the freedom of media workers in both government and private media organizations," TJA pointed out.

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