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Thammakaset lawsuits against former workers (re defamation on labour conditions, Thailand)

This page is a compilation of lawsuits filed by Thammakaset, a poultry farm in Thailand, against workers, journalists, and academics for alleged defamation regarding labour conditions at the poultry farm. Many cases are still ongoing.

Beginning in 2016, Thammakaset, a poultry farm in Lopburi Province, Thailand, has filed several criminal defamation lawsuits against former migrant workers from Myanmar  who reported poor working conditions at the company’s factory with the Ministry of Labour and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. In August 2016, the Lopburi Department of Labour Protection and Welfare ordered Thammakaset to pay 1.7 million Thai Baht (about USD 52,000) to pay the past wages of the 14 workers. On 15 January 2019, the Supreme Court of Thailand upheld the immediate payment of the 1.7 million Thai Baht  (USD 54,000) to the migrant workers. 

As of April 2020, Thammakaset has filed complaints with the police, the Criminal Court, and the Civil Court against at least 22 individuals, including its workers, human rights defenders, one reporter, and one TV station. Below is a non-exhausitve list of these lawsuits.

 

 Resource Centre’s website pages with additional information: 

Thailand: Thammakaset must stop legal harassment of human rights defenders & workers who exposed labour rights abuses at poultry farm, say NGOs

Human Rights Now reports on alleged labour violations in Thai poultry supply chain

Thailand: Thammakaset sues HRDs for defamation on work supporting chicken farmers; groups urge govt to stop judicial harassment 

Thailand: Supreme Court orders compensation for 14 migrant workers accusing Thammakaset farm of labour exploitation

 

Thammakaset’s criminal lawsuits against NGO workers

Ms. Thanaporn Saleephol, former Communications Associate at Fortify RightsOn 30 March 2020, Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint with the Bangkok South Criminal Court for alleged defamation and libel. The lawsuit is based on two tweets and three retweets posted between November 2019 and January 2020 expressing support for Ms. Anghkana Neelaphaljit and Ms. puttanee Kangkun, who both made social media engagements expressing support for Thammakaset workers. A mediation hearing scheduled for 5 August 2020. If the mediation fails, a preliminary hearing is set for 17 August 2020.

Case status: Ongoing

Ms. Puttanee Kangkun, Fortify Rights Senior Human Rights Specialist : In January 2020, Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint with the Bangkok South Criminal Court. If convicted, she could face up to 28 years imprisonemnet or 2.8 million Thai Baht fine (USD 93,300). The suit arises from 14 social media engagements expressing support for Thammakaset workers. This includes three tweets, nine retweets, and two Facebook posts. A preliminary hearing was held on 2 March 2020. The court adjourned it to 8 June 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Case status: Ongoing

Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit, Former Comissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT)On 25 october 2019, Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint with the Bangkok South Criminal Court. They allege she violated Articles 326 and 328 of Thailand’s Criminal Code. The suit is based on two tweets she made in support of human rights defender Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri. A preliminary hearing was held on 24 February 2020. The next preliminary hearing was postponed to 8 June 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak. If found guilty, she could face up to four years in prison and a fine of up to 400,000 Thai Baht (12,000 Euros). 

Case Status: Ongoing

Ms. Ngamsuk Ruttanasatian, academic at Mahidol University’s Institute for Human Rights and Peace : On 1 May 2019, Thammakaset filed a criminal complaint for alleged libel and defamation in the Criminal Court in Bangkok. The suit is based on sharing a Fortify Rights news release which called for an end to judicial harassment of human rights defenders Mr. Nan Win and Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri on the Institute for Human Rights and and Peace’s Facebook page. Preliminary hearings were held on 1 July and 5 August 2019. In September 2019, the Criminal Court in Bangkok dismissed the complaint due to insufficient evidence. Thammakaset has appealed the case.

Case status: Ongoing

Ms. Ka Thway Soe, Mr. Nan Toe, Mr. Nan Win, three former Thammakaset workers, and Ms. Suthasinee Kaewleklai, labour rights defender and coordinator of Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) : In May 2019, Thammakaset filed a criminal complaint with the Lopburi Kwaeng Court for allegedly providing false information to an official. The suit arises from submitting information over alleged labour rights violations committed by Thammakaset to the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare in 2016. The preliminary hearing was held on 27 January 2020. On 18 March 2020, the Loburi Kwaeng Court dismissed the complaint because the Don Mueang Kwaeng Court had already ruled on this matter and found that the defendants did not provide false information to the Labour Inspector.

Case status: Closed

Mr. Andy Hall, Labour rights activist : On 4 November 2018, Thammakaset filed a criminal complaint with Bangkok South Criminal Court for alleged defamation and libel. Additionally, another charge was filed under the Computer Crimes Act in connection with his use of social media to highlight the criminal charges against the migrant workers. The complaint is based on the use of social media to highlight the criminal charges against 14 migrant workers. The complaint is still pending in Bangkok South Criminal Court. 

Case status: Ongoing

Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, former Thai Human Rights Specialist at Forify Rights : 

In October 2018, Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint with the Criminal Court in Bangkok for alleged defamation and libel. Additionally, in October 2018, Thammakaset filed a separate civil defamation complaint with the Civil Court in Bangkok demanding five million Thai Baht (USD 161,000) in compensation for damage to the company’s reputation. They also demanded she publish an apology to the company in four local newspapers and on her Twitter account every day for a minimum of 30 days. The suits arise from three posts on Twitter about a campaign video produced by Fortify Rights which denounced labour conditions at the Thammakaset factory. 

After the preliminary hearing, in March 2019, the Criminal Court decided to proceed with the defamation case. Further, the Court decided to combine the case with Mr. Nan Win’s case The court also issued a detention warrant against Sutharee. Ms. Sutharee paid a 50,000 THB (USD 1,600) to be granted bail. Witness examination hearings were held in February 2020. The verdict has been postponed to 8 June 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Civil Court held a preliminary hearing for this case in December 2018, set the witness hearings for August 2019, and the verdict for October 2019. During the witness hearing phase, the Civil Court sought to mediate between the two parties. On 28 August 2019, after more than half a day of mediation, Thammakset decided to drop the complaint. On 8 June 2020, the court dismissed the case against Ms. Sutharee.

Case status: Closed 

Thammakaset’s Criminal lawsuits against journalists

Ms. Suchanee Cloitre, Voice TV journalist : In 2017, Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint with the Lopburi Police. Additionally, in March 2019, Thammakaset filed a private criminal defamation complaint for defamation and libel with the Lopburi Provincial Court as a private lawsuit. The lawsuit arises from posting information regarding Thammakaset’s alleged labour rights abuses on Twitter. Ms. Suchanee Cloitre testified at the police station in May 2018. In October 2018, the Lopburi Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to prosecute the case. The preliminary hearing was held on 3 June 2019. Ms. Cloitre’s lawyer submitted a request for dismissal, arguiding the complaint lacked merit because it amounted to judicial harassment against a human rights defender. However, the court refused the motion and in July 2019 decided to proceed with the case. The first hearing was held in August 2019 and the witness examination hearings were held in November 2019. In December 2019, she was sentenced to two years in prison. After the sentence, she was released on 75,000  Thai Baht  (USD 2,404 bail). Ms. Cloitre said she would appeal the verdict.

Case status: ongoing 

Voice TV Broadcast Station : In October 2019, Thammakaset filed a civil lawsuit against Voice TV Broadcast Station for posting a comment on Twitter in relation to Andy Hall’s post on Thammakaset compensation to 14 migrant workers. The company demands the TV station deleted the post. They also demanded the TV publish an apology to the company in four local newspapers and on Twitter account and website of the TV station every day for a minimum of 30 days. The company demands the TV station to pay for the lawyer and legal fee. The suit arises from posting information regarding Thammakaset’s alleged labour rights abuses on Twitter. The witness hearings are scheduled on 16-18 June 2020. 

Case status: Ongoing

 

Thammakaset’s criminal lawsuits against former workers

Mr. Tun Tun Win, one of the 14 Smigrant workers : In 2019, Thammakaset filed a criminal complaint with Bangkok South Criminal court for defamation and libel for sharing information online concerning the 14 cases filed against migrant workers. In May 2019, Mr. Tun Tun Win received a summons to appear before Bangkok South Criminal Court, not knowing that the Court had already accepted to proceed with the prosecution against him and decided that the grounds of the case had been established by the company. Mr. Tun Tun Win did not appear before the Court for the first hearing on 4 June 2019. As a result the Bangkok South Criminal Court ordered a temporary suspension of the case and issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Tun Tun Win.

Case status: ongoing

 Mr. Nan Win and 13 migrant workers, formerly employed by Thammakaset : On 8 October 2018, Thammakaset filed a criminal complaint with the Criminal Court in Bangkok for alleged defamation and libel. In May 2019, Thammakaset filed a separate criminal complaint with the Saraburi Provincial Court for alleged “false testimost to the Court.” The case arises from Mr. Nan Win giving two interviews concerning alleged labour abuses he experienced while working at Thammakaset’s poultry farm to the human rights NGO Fortify Rights at its press conference, which was broadcasted on Facebook Live and in a short campaign video produced by Fortify Rights and uploaded to Youtube. The preliminary hearing for this case was held in February 2019. In March 2019, the Criminal Court decided that the grounds of this case had been established and therefore will proceed. The court decided to combine his case with Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri. Witness examination hearings were held in February 2020. The verdict has been postponed to 8 June 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The preliminary hearing was held on 24 June 2019. On 6 August 2019, the Saraburi Provincial Court decided that grounds for the prosecution of Mr. Nan Win had been established. The first hearing was held in October 2019. A witness examination was held in March 2020.On 24 March 2019, the court decided to combine the case with Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri. On 8 June 2020, the court dismissed the case.

Case status: closed

 

Mr. Nan Win and 13 migrant workers, formerly employed by Thammakaset : On 6 October 2016, Thammakaset filed criminal cases against the migrant workers for allegedly “providing false information to an official” and “defamation.” The case arises from the workers reporting labour right violations by Thammakaset to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. In July 2018, the Don Mueang Kwaeng Court in Bangkok dismissed the case. The court found that the workers filed the complaints in good faith to defend their own rights. Thammakaset appealed the court’s verdict, the Don Mueang Court refused the appeal on a matter of fact. On 30 May 2019, the Court of Appeals upheld the Don Mueang court’s decision not to accept the appeal. This judgment is final.

Case status: closed

 

Ms. Ye Ye and Mr. Soe Yong, two former Thammakaset migrant workers, and Ms. Suthasinee Kaewleklai  :   

On 24 June 2016, Thamakaset filed criminal charges for larceny, alleging the workers stole the employee timecards which are considered properties of the employer. Additionally, in October 2017, Thammakaset filed a private criminal complaint with the LopburiProvincial Court against the two workers. In the complaint they included a labour rights activist and coordinator for MWRN for allegedly acting as a co-conspirator, one who instigated or supported the offences. The alleged offense is taking employee timecards to present their case to the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare. The Lopburi Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to proceed with prosecution against the two workers because they did not commit a crime, as their intentions were not dishonest. In September 2018, the Lopburi Provincial Court dismissed the case and ruled that the elements of larceny were not met as the defendants did not intend to take possesson of the timecards, but only to use them as evidence. Thammakaset appealed the Court’s dismissal. On 30 July 2019, the Court of Appeals upheld the Lopburi Provincial Court’s decision to dismiss the complaint. The judgment is final.

 Case status: closed 

 


 

 

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