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

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2 February 2020

Thailand: Puttanee Kangkun becomes the latest human rights defender to face criminal defamation complaint from poultry firm Thammakaset

Author: Fortify Rights

"Thailand: Drop Criminal Complaint Against Fortify Rights Senior Human Rights Specialist Puttanee Kangkun", 29 January 2020

...On December 6, Thammakaset filed a complaint against Puttanee...for 14 social media engagements expressing support for human rights defenders.

Puttanee is a Senior Human Rights Specialist with Fortify Rights and the 21st human rights defender to face charges by the company...

The complaint against Puttanee relates to three tweets, nine retweets, and two Facebook posts between January 25 and August 5, 2019. The content of the social media posts mentioned in the complaint involve expressions of support for human rights defenders Sutharee Wannasiri, Nan Win, and Ngamsuk Ruttanasatian, who are facing similar lawsuits from Thammakaset.

According to the 14 actions, Puttanee faces up to 28 years' imprisonment and/or 2.8 million Thai Baht (US$ 93,300) in fines for alleged violations...

Most of the cases brought by Thammakaset since October 2018 involve social media posts or re-posts of the Fortify Rights' film, and most of these cases are against women human rights defenders...

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24 December 2019

Thai reporter gets jail in libel case filed by poultry farm

Author: Busaba Sivasomboon and Grant Peck, Star Tribune

A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a reporter to two years in prison for criminal libel for a comment she tweeted about a labor abuse grievance at a poultry farm.

The case against Suchanee Cloitre, then working for Voice TV, is one of 20 lawsuits launched by Thammakaset Co. against 25 workers, activists and journalists.

Critics such as Human Rights Watch say these types of libel cases are meant to deter lawsuits filed in the public interest, such as by labor activists and environmentalists. They decry criminal libel laws as especially open to abuse. So-called "strategic litigation against public participation" lawsuits are meant to intimidate, since they often pit corporations with strong financial and legal resources against individuals and groups operating on shoestring budgets.

The Lopburi provincial court in central Thailand freed Suchanee on 75,000 baht ($2,490) bail after sentencing her. She will appeal the verdict, said her lawyer, Waraporn Uthairangsee.

"I am so shocked. I never thought that it would be such a very harsh verdict," Suchanee, who now works for a Thai television station, told The Associated Press. "I was doing my duty as a journalist in reporting what has happened, I didn't intend to harm anyone."

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24 May 2019

Fact sheet: Thammakaset vs. human rights defenders and workers in Thailand

Author: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Since the May 2014 coup d’état, Thailand’s human rights record has dramatically deteriorated. Military rule has had a wide-ranging, negative impact on the country’s human rights situation, particularly through the imposition of numerous orders and announcements issued by the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). These decrees and other repressive legislation, such as the Public Assembly Act, the Computer Crimes Act, and various provisions of the Criminal Code, including ‘defamation’ and ‘sedition’ have been frequently used to target human rights defenders, including lawyers, pro-democracy activists, journalists, and community-based defenders...

Harassment by Thammakaset:

At least 14 cases, 22 defendants Since 2016, Thammakaset Co., Ltd., a poultry farm in Lopburi Province, Thailand,1 has used criminal defamation laws to intimidate and silence human rights defenders and workers who exposed exploitative working conditions at its poultry farm. 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, and two reporters – for alleged defamation of the company. Despite advocacy and other actions undertaken by a number of European companies in support of various defendants in cases filed by Thammakaset, the company’s harassment against human rights defenders and workers has persisted - a fact that reveals the need for stronger action to curb these attacks...

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24 May 2019

THAILAND: Thammakaset must end its judicial harassment of human rights defenders

Author: FIDH

Thai company Thammakaset must immediately end all acts of harassment against human rights defenders and workers for exposing labour rights violations at its poultry farm, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint FIDH-OMCT partnership), urges today. The Observatory makes its call on the eve of the start of the trial against human rights defenders (HRDs) Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, a human rights specialist from Thailand, and Mr. Nan Win, a former worker at the Thammakaset farm, from Myanmar.

In conjunction with its call, the Observatory is releasing a 13-page fact sheet that details the 14 criminal and civil cases filed by Thammakaset against a total of at least 22 defendants, including HRDs, workers, and two reporters, for alleged defamation of the company. Ms. Sutharee and Mr. Nan Win will appear before the Criminal Court of Bangkok for the first hearing of Thammakaset’s criminal defamation complaint against them on May 24, 2019...

“The ongoing attacks by Thammakaset against human rights defenders endanger Thailand’s reputation as a global exporter of food products. The Thai authorities and Thammakaset’s stakeholders must act urgently to ensure that the company immediately withdraws all complaints filed against defenders and workers, and upholds its responsibility to respect human rights.” Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

The Observatory also calls on Thai judicial authorities to dismiss all existing cases filed by Thammakaset against the HRDs and workers for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression and to ensure that no further legal actions against them are pursued...

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