Laos to track Thai fugitives suspected of royal insult - media

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Laos will help the military government of neighboring Thailand to track Thai nationals suspected of insulting the royal family, the Bangkok Post daily said on Monday, citing military sources.

Thailand has the world’s strictest lese-majeste law, which prescribes jail terms of up to 15 years for each count of offending the king, queen, heir or regent, although it has also been interpreted to extend to dead kings.

“Thai political fugitives in Laos will be kept under strict surveillance to prevent them from engaging in lese majeste activities, the Laos government has assured Thailand,” the newspaper said.

Reuters was unable to reach officials of Laos’ defense ministry or its armed forces by telephone to seek comment.

A spokesman for Thailand’s defense ministry was not immediately available for comment by telephone.

Thailand’s military government took power after a 2014 coup. It has hit royal critics with record jail terms, prompting concern from the United Nations, which has repeatedly urged amendment of a law critics say is sometimes used as a political tool to silence enemies.

At least 94 people have been prosecuted for lese-majeste since the coup. As many as 43 people have been sentenced, according to data from the iLaw group, which monitors royal insult cases.

The laws protecting members of the royal family from insult limit what all news organizations, including Reuters, can report from Thailand.

Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Clarence Fernandez