Panel sparks media fears over its rights
June 27, 2014, 4:18 am

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) will today demand the junta clearly outline the fundamental rights and freedoms of the media.

The move follows the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s decision to set up five panels to monitor all media content and reported raids by troops on two major media outlets to prevent the reporting of a news story.

The journalist association fears further restrictions on the media. Manop Thip-osod, TJA vice-president responsible for rights, freedom and media reforms, said the body was worried about the move.

TJA president Pradit Ruangdit and other association executives will submit an open letter calling for clarification of the media’s rights to deputy NPCO chief Adul Saengsingkaew at Government House today, he said.

The decision to set up the monitors was made at a meeting of state agencies on Wednesday chaired by Pol Gen Adul, who is in charge of special affairs.

In the letter, the TJA will demand that fundamental rights and freedoms granted to media members allowing them to perform their duties under the media ethics and conduct code be maintained.

Laws can be invoked to control the media such as the Criminal Code regarding defamation, and the law on Computer Crime, Mr Manop said.

Soldiers reportedly raided the editorial departments of the Khom Chad Luek Thai-daily and the Nation Channel television station on Wednesday to prevent them from reporting on the setting up of the “FreeThai” organisation to oppose the coup, he said.

The TJA has contacted the NCPO communication team about the matter and was told the junta considered FreeThai as a sensitive issue that may cast the military in a negative light in the eyes of foreigners, Mr. Manop said.

NCPO spokesman Winthai Suvaree yesterday said the panels were aimed at boosting efficiency in dealing with the media. Prompt responses from the state were needed as news spreads quickly.

He maintained they were not a NCPO bid to limit the media’s rights and freedoms.

The NCPO spokesman asked media organisations to use their own judgement when asked if they could report news about fugitive former PM’s Office minister Jakrapop Penkair or former interior minister and ex-Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan.

The pair, both in exile, announced the launch of the Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy in a video clip on YouTube on Tuesday.

Source: Bangkok Post