Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a statement calling on the Thai government to withdraw the media regulation draft law, saying it will pave the way to tighten control over news reporting in Thailand.
The New York-based HRW said the draft bill, set to be tabled on Monday for endorsement by the National Reform Steering Assembly, provides for a proposed government-appointed national media council to regulate all media platforms – print, broadcast, or online.
It would also subject anyone who directly or indirectly earns income from reporting news to the public without a licence – and their company, agency, or organisation – to up to two years in prison and a Bt60,000 (US$1,715) fine, it pointed.
Brad Adams, Asia director said the misnamed media rights and freedom law is the junta’s latest attempt to increase government interference and control of any independent news reporting. Passage of this draft law, he said, would mean that reporters in Thailand would be constantly looking over their shoulder at a government-appointed panel that can have them jailed.
“The proposed media law is taking Thailand even further away from the junta’s promised election and restoration of democratic rule,” Adams said. “Instead of adopting another repressive law, the government should lift censorship and the rights abusing regulations that are destroying free expression in Thailand.”