Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 21 May 2012.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the compliance of lèse majesté laws in Thailand with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and what representations he has made to the government of Thailand on freedom of expression and the lèse majesté laws.

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

We understand the particular reverence the people of Thailand have for the monarchy. The Government attaches importance to the respect of fundamental human rights in line with the universal declaration of human rights. Specifically on article 19 which covers freedom of opinion and expression, the UK thinks that it should be possible to discuss constitutional reform without fear of coming under the purvue of laws that were designed for non-political purposes. In October 2011 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the human rights situation in Thailand was reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review process. The UK played an active role, including raising our concerns about freedom of expression and specifically recommending that the Thai Government seek to review its lèse majesté laws. The report of this session can be found online at the following link:

Our ambassador in Bangkok has raised the issue of freedom of expression with the Thai authorities. I also raised the issue when I visited Thailand in September 2011. We will continue to take appropriate opportunities to do so.

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