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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Article
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Author: Jennifer Hattam, Equal Times

«Le harcèlement judiciaire, nouvelle arme contre les défenseurs des droits» 8 juin 2020

Athit Kong se bat depuis plus de quatre ans pour ne pas aller en prison. Le dirigeant syndical cambodgien est poursuivi au pénal, étant accusé d’avoir commis des violences intentionnelles, entravé le travail d’agents de la fonction publique et obstrué une route publique pour aider à organiser une action revendicative, en 2016, afin d’obtenir la réintégration d’une quarantaine de chauffeurs de bus.

Ces accusations à l’encontre de Athit Kong et de trois autres militants syndicaux viennent de l’entreprise de bus Capitol Bus Company, qui aurait licencié les conducteurs parce qu’ils avaient essayé de créer un syndicat. Kong Athit affirme que sa situation n’est pas un cas isolé...

Les poursuites judiciaires engagées par les entreprises à l’encontre des syndicalistes et d’autres défenseurs des droits humains sont en hausse sur l’ensemble du globe, selon un rapport récemment publié par le Centre de Ressources sur les Entreprises et les Droits de l’Homme, établi à Londres (BHRRC, ou Business & Human Rights Resource Centre). Ce rapport, intitulé Défendre les défenseurs : Contester les actions en justice malveillantes en Asie du Sud-Est, recense également des zones à risque en matière de harcèlement judiciaire en Amérique centrale, en Europe de l’Est et en Russie. Il précise que le nombre de cas signalés a augmenté de 48 % en moyenne par an depuis 2015 à l’échelle planétaire, pour atteindre 84 % l’an passé...

Sutharee Wannasiri, chercheuse et consultante sur les droits humains, a elle-même fait l’objet de trois accusations après avoir partagé sur les médias sociaux une vidéo qui avait été réalisée par son employeur d’alors, l’ONG Fortify Rights. Sutharee Wannasiri et d’autres personnes avaient enquêté sur le cas de 14 travailleurs migrants qui avaient publiquement révélé avoir subi de graves violations du droit du travail dans un élevage de volailles de l’entreprise Thammakaset.

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Article
8 June 2020

Asia & Europe: Strategic lawsuits are on the rise, causing breakdown of trust between rights defenders & business, but more alliances are needed

Author: Jennifer Hattam, Equal Times

"See you in court: a rise in legal attacks against rights defenders aims to silence corporate critics", June 8, 2020

Kong Athit … Cambodian union leader faces criminal charges … brought against Athit and three other labour activists by Capitol Bus Company… Legal attacks by companies on trade union organisers and other human rights defenders are on the rise globally, according to a recent report by the London-based Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC)… Human rights researcher and consultant Sutharee Wannasiri found herself facing three such charges... [for] investigating the case of 14 migrant workers who had gone public with claims of have suffered serious labour abuses on a poultry farm operated by the Thammakaset Company… Thammakaset has filed a total of 36 legal cases against people who have tried to bring attention to its alleged labour-rights violations… Activist Andy Hall, another human rights defender targeted by Thammakaset … has spent years fighting criminal and civil defamation suits filed by pineapple company Natural Fruit over a report he researched in 2013 on alleged abuses at the firm’s canning operation… The Finnish retailing cooperative S Group … supported Hall in his legal battle with Natural Fruit… Engaging the power of the consumer, and leveraging the corporate social responsibility principles adopted by international companies, is another key strategy. “There’s been a complete breakdown of trust between human rights defenders and corporations, but we need to find allies among them to do our work most effectively,” says Hall... 

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Article
8 June 2020

Thailand: Acquittal of two women rights defenders sued by poultry producer Thammakaset

Author: The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia

"Thailand: UN Human Rights Office welcomes acquittal of human rights defenders", 08 Jun 2020

The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia welcomed the acquittal... of two...defenders who had been charged with criminal defamation by Thai poultry producer Thammakaset. The Bangkok Criminal Court reached a verdict in the case against Nan Win, a former migrant worker..., and Sutharee Wannasiri, a Thai... defender who formerly worked with...Fortify Rights... Companies in Thailand have long been criticized for employing...“strategic lawsuits against public participation,”... to silence...civil society organizations and... defenders. “This judgement shows how individuals raising legitimate concerns about alleged business abuses can be protected from SLAPP cases in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles...,” said... the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok. In December 2019, Thailand become the first Government in Asia to adopt a [NAP]. Protecting... defenders from SLAPP cases is one of the four key priorities...  The defamation case against Nan Win and Sutharee Wannasiri is just one of many... lodged against... defenders and workers by Thammakaset and other business enterprises in Thailand. The majority of SLAPP cases filed in Thailand in 2019 were against women... defenders. “These cases have created an atmosphere of fear, self-censorship and have added to stress, undue financial burden, and concerns for personal safety. It is critical that the protective measures outlined under Thailand’s [NAP] are... implemented and the practice of SLAPP is eliminated,” [OHCHR] said... 

Thai version of the article is available in the original source.

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Article
12 March 2020

Thailand: UN experts condemn abuse of judicial system by Thammakaset to harass human rights defenders

Author: UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights & 5 Special Rapporteurs

"Thailand: judicial system abused by business to silence human rights defenders – UN experts", 12 March 2020

A group of UN experts* have condemned the continued misuse of judicial processes by Thai poultry producer Thammakaset to harass and silence human rights defenders who have spoken out against its abusive and exploitative labour practices.

“We are deeply troubled by the information we continue to receive about migrant workers, human rights defenders, academics and journalists facing ill-founded defamation cases by the company Thammakaset when they raise legitimate concerns about working conditions in this company,” the experts said.

In the last year alone, the Thai company has filed criminal and civil defamation complaints against 10 individuals who have exposed human rights abuses against migrant workers in this company. Six of the individuals facing trial are women. If found guilty those accused face heavy fines and possible prison sentences...

The UN experts expressed their deep concern that these cases may have a “chilling effect” on the legitimate work of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors...

The Thai Government and all relevant business enterprises must act now to stop judicial harassment...

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Author: Lepetitjournal.com Bangkok avec Reuters

Suchanee Cloitre, journaliste de la télévision thaïlandaise, a été condamnée mardi par la Cour de Lopburi pour un post publié sur Twitter à propos d’un scandale agroalimentaire impliquant l’entreprise thaïlandaise d’élevage de poulets, Thammakaset, a indiqué, le 24/12, jour de la sentence, son avocat, Woraporn Uthairangsee. 

"Je suis choquée, je ne pensais pas que la peine serait aussi sévère", a déclaré la jeune femme à l’issue du jugement. 

Le message incriminé, posté en septembre 2017, accompagnait un "retweet" du militant pour les droits des migrants en Thaïlande, Andy Hall, au sujet d’une plainte déposée en 2016 par un groupe de travailleurs birmans auprès de la Commission nationale thaïlandaise des droits de l'homme sur les conditions de travail à la ferme Thammakaset...

En janvier dernier, Thammakaset a perdu son ultime recours auprès de la justice thaïlandaise qui a ordonné que l’entreprise verse une compensation aux plaignants, après avoir précédemment rejeté une action en diffamation intentée par cette dernière contre les travailleurs.

"Il n’existe aucun argument juridique significatif provenant de l’entreprise", avait alors déclaré la Cour suprême dans son ordonnance, rejetant l’appel.

Thammakaset, qui a toujours nié les accusations, a néanmoins intenté des poursuites en diffamation contre une vingtaine de journalistes et militants dans le cadre de cette affaire...

Cette affaire illustre la grande difficulté d'exercer librement son activité de journaliste dans un pays classé 136ème sur 180 dans le classement 2019 de liberté de la presse par Reporters Sans Frontières...

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Article
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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Article
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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Article
12 February 2019

Thailand: 89 groups urge gov't to oppose new cases filed by Thammakaset against human rights defenders

Author: 89 International and National Organisations

"Open Letter re New Lawsuits Brought by Thammakaset Company Limited Against Human Rights Defenders," 14 February 2019

Dear Prime Minister Prayut,

The 89 undersigned organizations write to express our deep concern regarding recent spurious complaints brought by Thammakaset Company Limited against several human rights defenders in Thailand.

We respectfully urge the Thai government to take immediate action to oppose and seek the dismissal of cases filed by Thammakaset that run counter to your government’s proclaimed policy to support business and human rights as well as Thailand’s interests, legal obligations, and international human rights law commitments.

To date, Thammakaset—a Thai-owned poultry company in Lopuri Province—has filed no fewer than 13 criminal and civil complaints against a number of human rights defenders, including former employees. While Thai authorities and courts have dismissed most of the complaints, some are still pending and, in November 2018, a company representative pledged to bring more complaints.

Thammakaset recently brought additional legal complaints against human rights defenders involved in publicly reporting on labor rights abuses and employer reprisals against the workers. As of October 2018, Nan Win, a former Thammakaset employee, faces new criminal defamation charges for speaking out on the alleged labor abuses and reprisals against the 14 former employees in a film produced by the human rights organization Fortify Rights and during a Facebook-live press conference that Fortify Rights organized. Sutharee Wannasiri, a former human rights specialist with Fortify Rights, also faces criminal and civil defamation charges for sharing Fortify Rights’ film on social media. The Bangkok Criminal Court is scheduled to consider the complaints against Nan Win and Sutharee Wannasiri on February 4 and March 11, 2019, respectively, and the Civil Court scheduled hearings in August 2019 to consider the civil complaint against Sutharee Wannasiri.

We are alarmed that Thai authorities are proceeding to investigate and prosecute these complaints by Thammakaset, particularly after the Don Mueang Sub-District Court has already dismissed similar criminal defamation charges in July 2018 brought by the company against the same 14 former employees. These new charges filed by Thammakaset constitute harassment by the company that waste valuable time and resources of police, prosecutors, and judicial officers.

To prevent future SLAPP lawsuits like those filed by Thammakaset, we recommend that Thailand develop comprehensive anti-SLAPP legislation that fully protects workers, human rights defenders, and others from judicial harassment...Thailand should also decriminalize defamation and end imprisonment or fines as a penalties for acts of defamation.

We urge the Thai government to follow the recommendation provided by a group of six United Nations human rights experts in May 2018 to “revise its civil and criminal laws as well as prosecution processes to prevent misuse of defamation legislation by companies.”...We encourage the Thai government to incorporate these recommendations into Thailand’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and also ensure meaningful consultations with Thai civil society on developing and implementing the National Action Plan.

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Note from Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: Click on "Download the full document" to read the Thai version of the letter and click on the link to access the full version of the open letter.  To know more about these cases, you can follow our stories here and here

 

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Article
14 August 2018

Thailand: Thammasaket Poultry Farm files fifth set of criminal charges against former migrant workers

Author: Migrant Workers Rights Network via Andy Hall

"Thammakaset Poultry Farm Files Fifth Set of Criminal Charges in Thailand, Prosecutes Former Myanmar Migrant Workers Again for Theft", 13 August 2018

Today two of 14 migrant workers from Myanmar, who alleged suffering labour and human rights abuses whilst working at Thammakaset Farm Co. Ltd. poultry farm in Lopburi Province of Thailand, reported alongside lawyers from NSP Legal Office to give statements at Khok Dtum police station in the province. This follows the farm's filing of a fifth set of criminal charges in relation to an ongoing dispute against them, other workers and NGO activists...If convicted of the latest criminal charges filed by Thammakaset on 1st August 2018 under section 335 (11) of Thailand's Criminal Code, the two workers face up to five years in prison and/or a 100, 000 baht fine...This increasingly publicised SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) case has seen Thammakaset already file two separate criminal cases against the 14 workers for defamation, giving false information to public officials and theft. Both cases, dismissed by a first instance Court and Lopburi Public Prosecutor respectively, are still however being pursued on appeal and through private prosecutions by Thammakaset within the Thai justice system...In addition, Thammakaset has filed three additional criminal cases against the workers, NGO activists and has also threatened more prosecutions including against local Thai journalists.

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Article
11 July 2018

Thailand: Court dismisses criminal defamation charges against 14 Myanmar workers

Author: Rina Chandran, Thomson Reuters Foundation News

"Thai court dismisses charges against Myanmar workers in landmark case", 11 July 2018

A court in Bangkok on Wednesday dismissed criminal defamation charges against workers from Myanmar who had accused a chicken farm of abuses, in a landmark ruling seen as a rare victory for migrant workers' rights in Thailand.  The case was triggered by a complaint that 14 workers filed to Thailand's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2016 about forced overtime, being paid under the minimum wage, confiscation of passports, and limited freedom of movement.  The workers were charged in October in a first-of-its-kind criminal defamation case, which prompted campaigners to urge better protection for migrant labourers who complain about working conditions.  On Wednesday, a judge said he believed that the workers filed the NHRC complaint against the Thammakaset chicken farm in "good faith", and without false information...Their former employer, Thammakaset farm, which supplied the Thai food conglomerate Betagro, denied the charges from the outset and launched a lawsuit against the workers, saying the complaint has damaged its reputation...Wednesday's verdict will help bolster the rights of migrant workers in the country, said Sutharee Wannasiri at the advocacy group Fortify Rights...

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