The Civil Court on Friday has blocked a government order temporarily by issuing an injunction suspending Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s regulation restricting freedom of speech. The court said it went against the law. The original government order was made on July 29, and prohibited news reports that can instigate “fear” among the public or lead to “misunderstandings” of efforts to control the Covid-19 outbreak.
The court also issued an English-language announcement of its decision. “Considering that Section 9 of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005) (No. 29) provides Prime Minister no authorization to suspend internet services provision, Article 2 of the Regulation authorizing the suspension of internet services provision against the Internet Protocol address (IP address) of which the user has disseminated the information not compatible with the Regulation is in contrary to the law,’’ the announcement said.
The court said it had examined and assessed the witnesses and the documentary evidences and decided to issue the injunction. The petition listed three arguments, banning content “which may frighten people” which the petition considered ambiguous. Secondly, allowing the NBTC to check and block access to the internet was considered illegal by the petition. Third, it defies the constitution in so much it runs against Section 35, which endorses freedom of the press
12 media companies and the Human Rights Lawyer Alliance filed filed a petition earlier this week, which instigated the civil court’s ruling on Friday to prohibit enforcement of the order. “The court has blocked the order and has said that the main reason is to protect people’s rights and liberties guaranteed in the constitution,” Thapanee Eadsrichai, a Thai journalist and representative of the group, said after the decision. The government’s order was too vague and could infringe upon freedoms, she said.
The petition was signed by the following media outlets, The Reporters, VoiceTV, The Standard, The Momentum, The Matter, Prachatai, Dem All, The People, Way Magazine, Echo and Plus Seven.