The Truth and Probability in Thai Defamation Cases

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Alexandre Chitov


Thai law does not clearly distinguish between defamation as a public wrong and defamation as an offence in private law. That leads to the abuses of criminal justice when an essentially private wrong is prosecuted and punished by means of criminal law. The defamation offences are criminalized in Thailand not so much on the basis of the actual harm to the victim, not on the basis of the vicious will to harm another, and not on the falsehood of defamatory statements.  They are largely criminalized on the basis of probabilities whether any statement can impair one’s reputation or not. The paper argues that applying criminal law to cases where there is only a probability of harm can be done only in exceptional cases. The extensive application of criminal law in ordinary defamation cases should not be permitted. The law must protect the truth. Search for truth should not be reduced to the mere assessment whether or not the reputation of another person will likely be damaged by purportedly false claims.  Instead, it must involve the search for the balance, if not harmony, between the right of free speech, public benefit, and the reputation of private individuals.


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