Thailand: Prosecutors urged to withdraw criminal defamation cases filed by Thammakaset Company; Govt. urged to enact comprehensive anti-SLAPP legislation
"Thailand: Drop Charges Against Rights Defenders; Repeal Criminal Defamation, Strengthen Anti-SLAPP Measures", 16 March 2023
Prosecutors in Thailand should immediately withdraw the criminal defamation cases brought by Thammakaset Company Ltd. against three prominent human rights defenders for their support of other activists facing criminal charges, Human Rights Watch said today. The Thai government should act to repeal criminal defamation provisions and introduce strong safeguards to prevent the use of frivolous, vexatious, or malicious legal actions that would have chilling effects on free speech.
Human Rights Watch, along with an increasing number of governments and international agencies, has consistently called for the repeal of criminal defamation laws because they are an inherently disproportionate punishment for expressions of speech judged to damage reputations. Civil defamation laws, when supplemented by strong anti-SLAPP safeguards, balance the need for fair reporting in the public interest with concerns about reputational harm to private actors. In addition, as the charges against Angkhana, Puttanee, and Thanaporn show, criminal defamation laws in Thailand are easily abused and can have adverse impacts on free expression in the public interest.
Thailand should enact comprehensive anti-SLAPP legislation to strengthen safeguards to protect freedom of speech and expression and prevent retaliation against workers, human rights defenders, and journalists, Human Rights Watch said.