Judicial harassment against members of the Khon Rak Ban Kerd Group

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against members of the Khon Rak Ban Kerd Group (KRBKG), a community-based group committed to defend the local environment from the negative impacts of the open-pit copper-gold mine, operated by the Tungkum company in Thailand’s Loei province[1].

THA 002 / 0316 / OBS 029
Judicial harassment
March 31, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on March 30, 2016, the Loei Provincial Court dismissed a civil defamation lawsuit brought by the mining company Tungkum against Mr. Suraphan Rujichaiwat, Ms. Viron Rujichaiwat, Mr. Khonglai Phakmi, Mr. Samai Phakmi, Ms. Pornthip Hongchai, and Ms. Mon Khunna - six KRBKG members who are living in communities near the open-pit copper-gold mine - for erecting signs last year at the Na Nong Bong village entrance gate and along the main road in the village, calling for the closure of the controversial mine and rehabilitation of the local environment. Tungkum Ltd. was seeking 50 million Thai Baht (EUR 1,274,000) in compensation from the six KRBKG members for alleged damage to the company’s reputation.

The Observatory welcomes yesterday’s decision, but remains concerned that at least 25 other villagers who oppose the mine’s operations are still facing eight criminal and civil cases brought by Tungkum.

Tungkum has brought at least 19 criminal and civil lawsuits against 33 members of the KRBKG and other villagers in the past seven years, including the case dismissed yesterday. Through these lawsuits, the company has sought a total of 320 million Thai Baht (EUR 8,156,000) from villagers who opposed the mine.

On March 10, the company dropped a separate criminal defamation complaint against Mr. Suraphan Rujichaiwat, who was accused of harming the company’s reputation by posting on Facebook a petition letter demanding an investigation into the legality of the mining concession and the transport of ore from the mine site. In that case, Mr. Suraphan faced up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 20,000 Thai Baht (EUR 510) under Section 326 of the Thai Criminal Code as well as up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to 100,000 Thai Baht (EUR 2,550) under the Computer Crimes Act.

The Observatory expresses concern for the numerous defamation-related charges brought by the company Tungkum against villagers and members of KRBKG for defending the local environment from negative impacts of the gold mine, and urges the company to immediately drop all lawsuits against them.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally put an end to all acts of judicial harassment against all members of the Khon Rak Ban Kerd Group and villagers who oppose the mine as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and Article 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.


· Prime Minister, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Government House, 1 Phitsanulok Road, Dusit, 10300, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Sri Ayutthaya Building, 443 Sri Ayutthaya Road, Phaya Thai, 10400, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Minister of Justice, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
· Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmoung, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, 10330, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
· Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand; 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Email: help@nhrc.or.th
· Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country.

Geneva-Paris, March 31, 2016

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

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[1] Villagers from six communities near the mine formed the KRBKG in 2007 to advocate for a clean environment and to oppose the mining operations. On March 7, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand honoured women of the KRBKG with a prestigious human rights defenders award for their role in bringing attention to critical human rights problems in Thailand.

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