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2 Dec 2018

Various National and International Groups

Thailand: 16 orgs call on gov't to drop defamation complaints vs. rights defenders

"Thailand: Drop defamation complaints against rights defenders," 03 December 2018

We, the 16 undersigned organizations, call on the Thai authorities and Thammakaset Company Limited to ensure that the criminal and civil defamation complaints brought by the company against human rights defenders Nan Win and Sutharee Wannasiri for bringing attention to labor rights violations at a Thammakaset-owned chicken farm in Thailand do not proceed. The Bangkok Criminal Court is scheduled to hold preliminary hearings on the criminal defamation complaints on December 3.

The company—a Thai-owned poultry company in Lopburi Province— should also withdraw all criminal complaints and unsubstantiated civil complaints against other migrant workers and human rights defenders for their involvement in peaceful activities protected by international human rights law.

We further call on the Thai authorities to ensure that no person is prosecuted or held criminally liable for defamation for activities protected under international law. The government should decriminalize defamation in Thai law and protect individuals and human rights defenders from abusive litigation aimed at curtailing the exercise of freedom of expression.

We are deeply concerned by Thammakaset’s continued attempts to misuse laws in Thailand to stifle the peaceful activities of human rights defenders protected under international human rights law and Thai law, curtailing the exercise of free expression in Thailand.

To uphold its commitments under domestic and international law, the Thai authorities should act to prevent further spurious SLAPP complaints being filed by Thammakaset and other companies that target workers and human rights defenders. Action to end SLAPP lawsuits is in line with the promoting responsible, rights respecting business practices that the current Thai government is supporting as part of developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. We urge Thai authorities in this regard to enact legislative protections to protect individuals from legal harassment through SLAPP lawsuits including, but not limited to, instituting effective protective provisions in the Thai Criminal Procedure Code.