Laos to track Thai fugitives suspected of royal insult

Thailand has the world’s strictest lèse-majesté laws. (Reuters pic)

BANGKOK: Laos will help the military government of neighbouring Thailand to track Thai citizens suspected of insulting the royal family, the Bangkok Post daily said on Monday, citing military sources.

Thailand has the world’s strictest lèse-majesté law, which prescribes jail terms of up to 15 years for each count of offending the king, queen, heir, or regent, although it has also been interpreted to extend to dead kings.

“Thai political fugitives in Laos will be kept under strict surveillance to prevent them from engaging in lèse-majesté activities, the Laos government has assured Thailand,” the newspaper said.

A spokesman for Thailand’s defense ministry was not immediately available for comment by telephone.

Thailand’s military government took power after a 2014 coup. It has hit royal critics with record jail terms, prompting concern from the United Nations, which has repeatedly urged amendment of a law critics say is sometimes used as a political tool to silence enemies.

At least 94 people have been prosecuted for lèse-majesté since the coup. As many as 43 people have been sentenced, according to data from the iLaw group, which monitors royal insult cases.

The laws protecting members of the royal family from insult limit what all news organisations can report from Thailand.