Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In many countries, you can go to jail for insulting the head of state online

There are at least twelve countries where you can go to jail for insulting their heads of state.  The most notorious of these might be Thailand, where the constitution protects the monarch from insult, and the law prescribes 15 years in prison, and any critical commentary can get the blogger in trouble.  That even applies to dead monarchs. 
A surprising one is the Netherlands, where people were convicted in both 2007 and 2012 for comments about Queen Beatrix. (That name happens to be the name of a rustic town in Clive Barker’s fantasy “Imajica”, and all the non-Earth planets had very authoritarian, Putin-like governments). 

Cameroon has an outright sedition law, and remember that country is part of the recent belligerent anti-gay push in Africa. 

Kuwait sends offenders into exile.

All of this is in the article by Jessica Phelan in GlobalPost, here

In Poland (which I visited in 1999) you could be prosecuted for passing gas in the presence of the head of state.
Turkey has a four-year prison sentence.  A columnist got 10 months in prison, suspended right now, for a typo when he typed “ustamf” instead of “ustam”, which would be an insulting term to refer to prime minister Recip Tayyo Erdogan.  (Story in The Verge, here. by Chris Welch.)  Imagine the mentality that requires you to be diligent enough to check everything you self-publish for any typos, lest going to jail. 

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