Thai court suspends order limiting Covid-19 reporting

Bangkok, Aug 6 (EFE).- A Bangkok court suspended Friday a government order that punished disseminating information about the Covid-19 pandemic “that generates fear” – even if truthful – with up to two years in prison, ruling that it violates fundamental rights.

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha approved this measure last week amid strong criticism against his management of Thailand’s vaccination campaign and the inability to stop the current Covid-19 outbreak.

A group of journalists filed a lawsuit before a Bangkok civil court which said Friday that the measure goes against “rights and civil liberties protected by the constitution.”

The court also spoke of the ambiguity with which the rule was drawn up and considered that it “opens up to the possibility of a broad interpretation” that would put the information work of the media or the free expression of people’s opinions at risk.

“This civil court prohibits (authorities) from applying (the order) unless another court says otherwise,” the decision said.

Thailand is experiencing a strong outbreak of the pandemic, linked to the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The country registered 21,379 infections and 191 deaths Friday, two new daily highs.

The outbreak has led the government to impose a night curfew in Bangkok and 28 other provinces, a ban on public meetings of more than four people and the closure of restaurants, shopping centers and other establishments, among other measures.

The government has so far ruled out approving a 24-hour confinement and stricter restrictions against the outbreak detected in April, which has since accounted for more than 95 percent of the 714,684 cases registered since the beginning of the pandemic and up to 98 percent of the 5,854 dead.

The vaccination campaign is weeks behind schedule and only about 6 percent of the vaccinable population has received the full course, while about 21 percent have had at least one dose. EFE


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