Ten years of intense lobbying reached a break-through in May 2015

Thailand acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. Since then, many child protection measures have been provided, with the latest key provision being the criminalization of child pornography in 2015 with the signing of a new bill by the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand (NLA). Thailand’s Health System Research Institute estimates that children in prostitution make up 40% of the total. The ease of access to children and the comparatively light punishment for sexual crimes against children make Thailand a haven for pedophiles from around the world.

Being aware of the transnational nature of child sex abuse in travel and tourism, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, Founder of World Childhood Foundation, shared lessons learned by Sweden with numerous countries, including Thailand. At a 2010 conference by the Thai Ministry of Justice in Bangkok, Thailand, H.M. Queen Silvia highlighted how laws against child pornography were passed in Sweden in 1996 and 2010 to better protect children from sexual crimes.

Ten years of intense lobbying – originally through a private initiative by Thai and Swedish patrons – finally reached a break-through in May 2015 when the NLA passed a bill to amend the Penal Code to criminalize child pornography. The amendments criminalize possession of all forms of child pornography for the sexual benefit of oneself or of another person, as well as its production, trade, distribution, and exhibition. A definition of child pornography has been added to the Penal Code, clarifying that a child is anyone under 18 years of age and listing the various forms of child pornography, which includes stories of sexual acts with a child.

In parallel, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) analysed selected legislation in Southeast Asia related to child sexual abuse and exploitation in travel and tourism and was helping some of the countries draft legislation to better protect children. At the same time, UNODC was also supporting Thai criminal justice agencies to address issues of child sexual abuse and exploitation, child pornography, and grooming. The tipping point came in 2012 when the practitioners and UNODC crossed paths with the Thai and Swedish patrons and started providing technical assistance and guidance.

Quick Facts on Thailand’s Law Against Child Pornography

NLA Votes:

Nearly unanimous, with 193 of 196 members voting in favor of this law.

Bill proposed by:

Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation via female NLA member, Ms. Jintanant Chaya Subhamitr, Ph.D. and examined by the extraordinary committee to consider amendments to the Penal Code to criminalize child pornography, which was chaired by Pol.Gen. Chatchawal Suksomjit

Making history:

First bill to be posed by the NLA, instead of a ministry. Fastest bill to be passed to date (5 months).