Bangkok (Thailand), 18 May 2015 - The National Legislative Assembly of Thailand voted unanimously on Thursday 14 May to amend the Criminal Code of Thailand to criminalise child pornography. Speaking at an official press conference at the Parliament of Thailand, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Justice, Police General Chatchawal Suksomjit said that, when the law is enacted, it will help protect children from sexual abuse. Previously, the possession of child sex abuse material without intent to distribute was not considered a crime under the Criminal Code of Thailand.
"This amendment to the Criminal Code is a recognition that children and youth need to be protected from exploitation including on the internet where images are traded and distributed far too easily," said Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. He highlighted UNODC's work with the Government of Thailand, and other governments in Southeast Asia, to develop and implement measures to investigate and prosecute child sex offenders and protect children from sexual crimes. Mr. Douglas went on to say, "I congratulate Thailand for committing to child protection and becoming an example for other countries in the region."
UNODC provided concrete recommendations to the Ministry of Justice on how to strengthen Thailand's legislative framework. In drafting the amendments to the Criminal Code on child pornography, the National Legislative Assembly considered UNODC's recommendations as reference material to propose the new bill. The bill prescribes punishment of up to five years of imprisonment for mere possession of child pornography, up to seven years for distribution and up to ten years for production and trade.
"This is the result of on-going work on legal reform being delivered by UNODC and the Ministry of Justice of Thailand," said Ms. Margaret Akullo, UNODC Regional Programme Coordinator. "The amendments are a signal for other countries in Southeast Asia to criminalise child pornography."
UNODC identified salient issues during the drafting of the legislation. "Once the bill becomes law, it will be important to promote the effective implementation of the new national legislation to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation online and offline," said Ms. Akullo.