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 Thai panel calls for overhaul of law forbidding royal insults

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PostSubject: Thai panel calls for overhaul of law forbidding royal insults   Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:17 pm

(CNN) -- A Thai advisory panel has recommended an overhaul of the country's law that stipulates heavy sentences for insulting the royal family, according to a letter addressed to the prime minister seen Thursday by CNN.
The independent Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand said in the letter that the punishments should be less severe and "based more on popular sentiment." The commission has no power itself to change the law, but its views are respected in Thailand.
International groups like Human Rights Watch have repeatedly criticized Thailand's tough laws against defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family.
Last month, a Thai criminal court sentenced a Thai-born American to 2 1/2 years in prison for insulting the monarchy. The U.S. government said it was "troubled" by the case and criticized the sentence as too harsh.
American sentenced for Thai insult
The recent letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was dated December 30, but it was sent to CNN and other international news organizations Thursday.
In it, the commission supported the view of human rights organizations who say the lese-majeste law has been misused for political reasons.
The law should be changed, the letter said, otherwise "it may continue to be used as a political tool and will therefore obstruct reconciliation between people in our country."
CNN's Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.

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