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30 Oct 2020

Reuters and online reporters, Bangkok Post

Thailand: Appeal Court acquits journalist in defamation case brought by Thammakaset

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"Court acquits reporter Suchanee over chicken farm tweet", 27 October 2020.

An appeal court on Tuesday overturned charges against a television reporter who had been sentenced to two years in prison for libelling a chicken farm on Twitter.

Suchanee Cloitre was convicted in December 2019 for a Twitter post about a legal dispute over working conditions at the Thammakaset farm in Lop Buri, a supplier to Betagro before the agribusiness giant cut ties.

A 2016 complaint filed with the National Human Rights Commission claimed migrant workers at the farm had to work up to 20 hours a day,  were paid less than the minimum wage and were forced to surrender their identity documents. 

The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare ordered the farm to pay the workers 1.7 million baht in compensation – it was eventually handed over last year – but Thammakaset has filed 39 criminal and civil complaints against 22 migrant workers, journalists and activists, including Ms Suchanee.

In a statement, the court ruled that while some of the wording in her tweet had not been suitable, she had done no wrong.

"As a member of the press and a citizen, the defendant has the right to investigate, criticise and give opinion that is in the public interest," it said...

Representatives of the farm could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.