THAILAND DROPS CHARGES FOR BURNING ROYAL PORTRAITS
A Thai appeal court has dropped royal insult charges against six people jailed for setting fire to portraits of Thai kings. This, and the fact that there have been no new persecutions this year, suggests that there is a new policy direction on lèse-majesté laws in Thailand, according to one lawyer. The suspects, aged between 18 and 20, were arrested last year for burning the photos of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) believes that the lèse-majesté laws have been used by the Thai junta to block peaceful expression of views. Since the beginning of 2018, more than 100 pro-democracy activists have faced illegal assembly charges for peacefully pressing the junta to hold promised elections, according to the HRW.