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Lèse-majesté

lèse-majesté, lèse-majesté definition
Lèse-majesté /ˌlɛzˌmæʒɛsˈteɪ/ or /ˌliːz ˈmædʒɪsti/; also lese-majesty, lese majesty or leze majesty is the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state

This behaviour was first classified as a criminal offence against the dignity of the Roman Republic of Ancient Rome In the Dominate, or Late Empire period, the emperors eliminated the Republican trappings of their predecessors and began to identify the state with their person Although legally the princeps civitatis his official title, meaning, roughly, 'first citizen' could never become a sovereign because the republic was never officially abolished, emperors were deified as divus, first posthumously but by the Dominate period while reigning Deified emperors enjoyed the same legal protection that was accorded to the divinities of the state cult; by the time it was replaced by Christianity, what was in all but name a monarchical tradition had already become well-established

Narrower conceptions of offences against Majesty as offences against the crown predominated in the European kingdoms that emerged in the early medieval period In feudal Europe, some crimes were classified as lèse-majesté even if they were not intentionally directed against the crown An example is counterfeiting, so classified because coins bore the monarch's effigy and/or coat of arms

With the disappearance of absolute monarchy in Europe, lèse-majesté came to be viewed as less of a crime However, certain malicious acts that would have once been classified as the crime of lèse-majesté could still be prosecuted as treason Future republics that emerged as great powers generally still classified as a crime any offence against the highest representatives of the state These laws are still applied as well in monarchies outside of Europe, such as modern Thailand

Contents

  • 1 Current laws
    • 11 Europe
      • 111 Denmark
      • 112 Iceland
      • 113 Netherlands
      • 114 Spain
    • 12 Middle East
      • 121 Kuwait
      • 122 Jordan
      • 123 Saudi Arabia
    • 13 Elsewhere
      • 131 Morocco
      • 132 Thailand
      • 133 Malaysia
  • 2 Former laws
    • 21 Japan
    • 22 Norway
    • 23 United Kingdom
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References

Current laws

Europe

Further information: Freedom of speech by country: Germany and Poland

In Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Poland it is illegal to insult foreign heads of state publicly

On 25 January 2017, the German Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced a decision by the Cabinet to remove the law from the German criminal code, effective January 1, 2018 The decision came several months after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in April 2016 a controversial decision to honor the Turkish government's request to prosecute a German comedian for reading an obscene poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on late-night television In that announcement, Merkel also stated the intention to consider repeal of the little-known law The prosecution was dropped in November 2016

  • On 5 January 2005, Marxist tabloid publisher Jerzy Urban was sentenced by a Polish court to a fine of 20,000 złoty about €5000, UK£3384 or US$6,200 for having insulted Pope John Paul II, a visiting head of state
  • On 26–27 January 2005, 28 human rights activists were temporarily detained by the Polish authorities for allegedly insulting Vladimir Putin, a visiting head of state The activists were released after about 30 hours and only one was actually charged with insulting a foreign head of state

Denmark

In Denmark, the monarch is protected by the usual libel paragraph § 267 of the penal code which allows for up to four months of imprisonment, but §115 allows for doubling of the usual punishment when the regent is target of the libel When a queen consort, queen dowager or the crown prince is the target, the punishment may be increased by 50% There are no historical records of §115 having ever been used, but in March 2011, Greenpeace activists who unfurled a banner at a dinner at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference were charged under this section They received minor sentences for other crimes, but were acquitted of the charge relating to the monarch

Iceland

Insulting a country, foreign head of state, its representatives or flag can be punished by up to two years of imprisonment according to the 95th article of the penal code For a very serious breach the time can be extended to 6 years

Netherlands

For insulting the king, the heiress apparent, and their relatives, an offender may receive up to five years' imprisonment plus a fine

In total 18 prosecutions were brought under the law between 2000 and 2012, half of which resulted in convictions

In October 2007, a 47-year-old man was sentenced to one week's imprisonment and fined €400 for, amongst other things, lèse-majesté in the Netherlands when he called Queen Beatrix a "whore" and told a police officer that he would have anal sex with her because "she would like it"

In July 2016, a 44-year-old man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for 'intentionally insulting' King Willem-Alexander, accusing him of being a murderer, thief and rapist

Spain

The Spanish satirical magazine El Jueves was fined for violation of Spain's lèse-majesté laws after publishing an issue with a caricature of the then-Prince of Asturias and his wife engaging in sexual intercourse on the cover in 2007

Middle East

Kuwait

In January 2009 there was a diplomatic incident between Australia and Kuwait over an Australian woman being held for allegedly insulting the Emir of Kuwait during a fracas with Kuwaiti immigration authorities

Jordan

In September 2012, pro-reform activists faced charges of lèse-majesté following protests in two locations in Jordan The protests turned violent after the activists reportedly chanted slogans against the Jordanian regime and insulted King Abdullah II and the Royal Court

In August 2014, Mohammad Saeed Baker, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's shura council, was arrested in Jordan and sentenced to six months in prison for lèse-majesté He was released in February 2015

Saudi Arabia

Under the counterterrorism law that took effect in 2014, actions that "threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king" are considered acts of terrorism The offense may carry harsh corporal punishment, including public lashings, lengthy jail terms and even death, the sentences may be determined on a per case basis owing to the arbitrary nature of the Saudi legal system

Elsewhere

Morocco

Moroccans are routinely prosecuted for statements deemed offensive to the King The minimum penalty for such a statement is one year's imprisonment if the statement is made in private ie not broadcast, and three years' imprisonment if it is made in public In both cases, the maximum is 5 years

The cases of Yassine Belassal and Nasser Ahmed a 95-year-old who died in jail after being convicted of lèse-majesté, and the Fouad Mourtada Affair, revived the debate on these laws and their applications In 2008, an 18-year-old was charged with "breach of due respect to the king" for writing "God, Homeland, Barça" on a school board, in reference to his favorite football club and satirising the national motto "God, Homeland, King"

In February 2012, 18-year-old Walid Bahomane was convicted for posting two mild cartoons of the king on Facebook The procès-verbal cites two Facebook pages and a computer being seized as evidence Walid was officially prosecuted for "touching the sacralities"

Thailand

A government officer pays respect to the portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand Main article: Lèse majesté in Thailand

Thailand's criminal code has carried a prohibition against lèse-majesté since 1908 In 1932, when Thailand's monarchy ceased to be absolute and a constitution was adopted, it too included language prohibiting lèse-majesté The 2016 Constitution of Thailand, and all previous versions since 1932, contain the clause, "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action" Thai criminal code elaborates in Article 112: "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years" Missing from the code, however, is a definition of what actions constitute "defamation" or "insult" From 1990 to 2005, the Thai court system only saw four or five lèse-majesté cases a year From January 2006 to May 2011, however, more than 400 cases came to trial, an estimated 15 times increase Observers attribute the increase to increased polarization following the 2006 military coup and sensitivity over the elderly king's declining health In 2013, the Supreme Court of Thailand ruled in case no 6374/2556 that Article 112 of the Penal Code protects the past kings as well as the present one Criticisms or comments which tarnish past kings or the monarchy is punishable by law However, scholars raised doubts as to how far back lèse-majesté will be applied as the present Thai monarchy Chakri Dynasty dates back more than 200 years while other monarchies which ruled Siam can be traced back almost 800 years

Neither the king nor any member of the royal family has ever personally filed any charges under this law In fact, during his birthday speech in 2005, King Bhumibol Adulyadej encouraged criticism: "Actually, I must also be criticized I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know" He later added, "But the King can do wrong", in reference to those he was appealing to not to overlook his human nature

Under the NCPO junta which overthrew the democratic regime in May 2014, charges of lèse-majesté have increased significantly, especially against the opponents of the junta Lèse-majesté is now seeing increasing use as a tool to stifle free speech and dissent in the country Even the parents of the former princess Srirasmi Suwadee as well as her uncle have been charged with lèse-majesté On March 9, 2015, a court sentenced her father Apiruj Suwadee and mother Wanthanee for insulting the royal family and lodging a malicious claim They pleaded guilty to the offenses named and were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison On June 9, 2017 in Bangkok a 33-year-old Thai man by the first name of Wichai was given 35 years imprisonment for posting 10 Facebook photos and comments about the Thai royalty This sentence was reduced from initial 70 years following a guilty plea made after a year in jail before the trial

On June 2017 the United Nations has called on Thailand to amend its law on lèse-majesté

Malaysia

Malaysia uses the sedition law to charge people for allegedly insulting the royal institution In 2013, Melissa Gooi and 4 other friends were detained for allegedly insulting the royal institution In 2014, Ali Abd Jalil were detained and served 22 days in prison for insulting the royal family of Johor and Sultan of Selangor A prison sentenced was passed in Johor for attacking the royal family to Muhammad Amirul Azwan Mohd Shakri

Former laws

Japan

Laws against offending the emperor were in place between 1880 and 1947, when the law was abolished, during the Allied occupation The last person to be convicted of the crime was a member of the Japanese Communist Party, Shoutarou Matsushima, who wielded a placard during a protest against food shortages reading, on the one side, "Imperial Edict: The Emperor system has been preserved I, the Emperor, have eaten to my heart's content, but you, my subjects, should starve to death! Signed, Imperial Seal" Matsushima was sentenced to eight months in prison, but was pardoned immediately by the government

Norway

Main article: Lèse majesté in Norway

Following the 2005 Penal Code introduced in 2015, lèse majesté is no longer considered a criminal offense

The 1902 Penal Code, article 101, provided a fine or up to five years of prison for lèse majesté According to article 103, prosecution had to be ordered or accepted by the King Article 101 stated: "If any defamation is exercised against the King or the Regent, the guilty is punished with a fine or up to five years of prison"

United Kingdom

Section 51 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Scotland Act 2010 abolished the common law criminal offences of sedition and "leasing-making" The latter offence, also known as "lease /ˈliːz/ making", was considered an offence of lèse-majesté or making remarks critical of the monarch of the United Kingdom The final prosecution for this offence had occurred in 1715

See also

  • Alien and Sedition Acts
  • Blasphemy
  • Defamation
  • Flag desecration
  • Insubordination
  • Article 301 Turkish Penal Code
  • Mutiny
  • Sedition
  • Treason
  • Streisand effect

References

  1. ^ Collin's English Dicitonary
  2. ^ "lese-majesty" Oxford English Dictionary 3rd ed Oxford University Press September 2005  Subscription or UK public library membership required
  3. ^ Oxford Concise Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities A complex development as distinct from treason occurred from kingdom thru empire Arguably there was no distinction in the republican period
  4. ^ TheFreeDictionarycom, "Lese majesty" TheFreeDictionarycom, Columbia Encyclopedia, retrieved 22 September 2006
  5. ^ Swiss Penal Code , SR/RS 3110 E·D·F·I, art 296 E·D·F·I
  6. ^ Deutsche Welle, "Berlin abolishing slander law on insulting foreign leaders", Retrieved July 30, 2017
  7. ^ TheInterceptcom "German Chancellor Refuses to Block Prosecution of Comic Who Insulted Turkey’s President" retrieved July 30, 2017
  8. ^ Deutsche Welle
  9. ^ IFEXorg, "Criminal Defamation Laws Hamper Free Expression" IFEXorg, retrieved 22 September 2006
  10. ^ NEWSBBCcouk, "Sensitive heads of state", retrieved 30 January 2008
  11. ^ "Resinformationdk" retsinformationdk Retrieved 26 January 2017 
  12. ^ "COP-15 activists in lèse majesté case" Politiken Copenhagen 1 March 2011 Retrieved 1 March 2011 
  13. ^ Københavns Byret 22-08-2011 Greenpeace-aktivister idømt betinget fængsel i 14 dage in Danish
  14. ^ "Almenn hegningarlög" Retrieved 27 January 2017 
  15. ^ "This is how these 12 countries will punish you for insulting their heads of state" globalpostcom Retrieved 26 January 2017 
  16. ^ a b "Dutchman jailed for 30 days for 'insulting' the king" 14 July 2016 Retrieved 26 January 2017 – via wwwbbccom 
  17. ^ "Dutch man jailed for insulting the queen" currentcom Archived from the original on 2011-02-21 
  18. ^ Rechtbank Amsterdam, 13/420932-07 en 13/421786-06, ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2007:BB1044
  19. ^ "Spain royal sex cartoonists fined" BBC 13 November 2007 Retrieved 13 November 2007 
  20. ^ "Australia will not intervene as woman held in Kuwait for emir 'insult' - National" smhcomau Retrieved 26 January 2017 
  21. ^ "Tafileh Reform Activists to be Charged with Slander, Lese Majeste | Jordan News | Ammon News" Enammonnewsnet 2012-09-13 Retrieved 2014-01-06 
  22. ^ "Brotherhood member released after serving six-month prison term" jordantimescom 2 February 2015 Retrieved 26 January 2017 
  23. ^ "Saudi writer arrested for insulting long-dead king" Middle East Eye Middle East Eye 15 July 2015 Retrieved 1 June 2016 
  24. ^ "Pakistani commentator Zaid Hamid sentenced to prison, lashing in Saudi Arabia" Gulf News Gulf News 4 July 2015 Retrieved 1 June 2016 
  25. ^ PCBUBes Archived 6 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ BarcelonaReportercom Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Busted for Posting Caricatures of the King on Facebook" 8 February 2012 Retrieved 9 February 2012 
  28. ^ "BBC NEWS - Asia-Pacific - Thailand's king pardons Swiss man" bbccouk Retrieved 26 January 2017 
  29. ^ Head, Jonathan 9 September 2008 "Writer held for 'insulting' Thai royals" BBC Retrieved 26 October 2016 
  30. ^ a b Todd Pitman and Sinfah Tunsarawuth 27 March 2011 "Thailand arrests American for alleged king insult" Associated Press Retrieved 27 May 2011 
  31. ^ "Royal Birthday Address: 'King Can Do Wrong'" National Media 5 December 2005 Retrieved 26 September 2007 
  32. ^ "The Thai cleaning lady facing prison for 'I see'" BBC BBC 20 May 2016 Retrieved 21 May 2016 
  33. ^ "Parents of Thai ex-princess given jail term for lese majeste" 11 March 2015 Retrieved 26 January 2017 – via wwwbbccom 
  34. ^ Simth, Nicola June 9, 2017 "Man handed 35-year sentence for insulting Thai royal family on Facebook" Telegraph 
  35. ^ http://wwwbbccom/news/world-asia-40298570#
  36. ^ " She Insulted Our Agong: Her Friend Surrenders" sayscom Retrieved 26 January 2017 
  37. ^ Samuels, Gabriel 8 June 2016 "Teenager jailed for insulting Malaysian royal family on Facebook" The Independent 
  38. ^ p 242, Eiji Takemae: The Allied Occupation of Japan Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003
  39. ^ Straffeloven, § 101 at Lovdatano
  40. ^ Straffeloven, § 103 at Lovdatano
  41. ^ Norwegian: Forøves nogen Ærekrenkelse mod Kongen eller Regenten, straffes den skyldige med Hefte eller Fængsel indtil 5 Aar
  42. ^ "Justice Committee Official Report" Scottish Parliament 20 April 2010 Retrieved Feb 2011  Check date values in: |access-date= help

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    29.10.2014


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