07/28/2021, 15.39
THAILAND
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Journalists accuse the government of cracking down on press freedom

by Steve Suwannarat

Critics slam a recent decree used to control public opinion as well as the government’s disastrous handling of the pandemic. About 200,000 people are expected to benefit from a royal pardon this year, party due to numerous coronavirus outbreaks in prisons.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Thai government is accused of using a recently approved decree to crack down on the opposition, journalists' associations note, fearing that more censorship is on the way.

On 15 July, an emergency decree came into effect, allowing repressive actions against those who disseminate untrue information with the aim of "causing fear" and "undermining the stability of the state".

According to many journalists, allegations about “fake news” is only an excuse used by the authorities to control public opinion. For many critics, government action reflects a “policy of controlling press freedom through the emergency law in force for the pandemic”.

For some time, more and more Thais have been calling on the monarchy to show greater transparency, and adopt a more people-oriented relationship with ordinary citizens.

Over the past year, protests have broken out against the government, accused of protecting the interests of the military, ex-military and their associates, who took power in a coup in 2014 and continue to rule in a repressive and anti-democratic way.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, civil society groups have also criticised the authorities for their disastrous handling of the health emergency.

According to the latest data, 16,533 new coronavirus cases were reported today with 133 deaths, marking a new low for the country.

Among the new cases, 202 were found in correctional facilities. As a result of the many outbreaks in prisons, many inmates can expect to receive a pardon before the end of the year.

Traditionally, royal pardons are granted on the sovereign's birthday, which falls today. Some 200,000 people should benefit from an early release or a reduction in their sentence.

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