Thailand: Judicial harassment against community rights and anti-corruption activist Chutima Sidasathian

Urgent Appeal
Chutima Sidasathian

THA 002 / 0324 / OBS 010
Judicial harassment
March 1, 2024

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the judicial harassment of Ms Chutima Sidasathian, community rights and anti-corruption advocate. Chutima Sidasathian is an investigative journalist and documentary producer on human rights issues. She was a former investigative journalist for the online news outlet Phuketwan.

On March 6, 2024, the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Court is expected to deliver its verdict in the criminal defamation case against Chutima Sidasathian. Ms Chutima has been charged with three counts of criminal defamation, under Articles 326 and 328 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, for exposing allegations of corruption involving a local public official. If found guilty, Ms Chutima could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 Baht (approximately 5,140 Euros) for each count. In addition, the plaintiff also requested 100,000 Baht (approximately 2,570 Euros) in damage compensation.

On May 27, 2022, Thanonthorn Kaveekitrattana, the head of the sub-district municipality of Banlang, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against Chutima Sidasathian at Nonthai police station in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, after she exposed his alleged involvement in misappropriation and other irregularities in microcredit monies loaned by Thailand’s National Village and Urban Community Fund (Village Fund) through the state-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) in three Facebook posts in February and April 2022. The posts referred to the corruption scandal and alleged mismanagement of community affairs by Thanonthorn Kaveekitrattana. In December 2022, Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Public Prosecutor indicted Chutima Sidasathian on charges of criminal defamation, and on January 26, 2023, the court hearings started.

Since 2021, Chutima Sidasathian has investigated challenges faced by 16 villages in Nakhon Ratchasima Province in connection with a community banking scheme, designed to lend money to villagers at advantageous rates. She was able to document that many villagers had never received the loans, even though the GSB was taking legal action against them to recover the loans. She began posting information on Facebook and helped villagers, many of whom faced financial ruin, to find legal representatives to seek remedies. In addition, Chutima Sidasathian filed complaints with relevant government agencies, including the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT), to seek an investigation into allegations of corruption.

In October 2023, the NHRCT acknowledged the cases against Chutima Sidasathian as strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). In December 2023, the District Chief Officer, whose investigation was prompted by the NACC, issued a general finding of “no criminal activity,” reportedly without interviewing villagers. The Ombudsman and DSI’s investigations are ongoing.

In December 2023, a Special Commission of Investigation was established under the state-backed microcredit program Village Fund to investigate the alleged corruption. This investigation is also ongoing.

The GSB’s investigation established that resident in 16 villages received only 12 million baht (approximately 308,000 Euros) of the original 45 million baht (approximately 1,13 million Euros) in loans. GSB has yet to inform the public as to what happened to the other 33 million baht (approximately 822,000 Euros). Chutima Sidasathian claims she found evidence that a certain amount of the loans was transferred to Thanonthorn Kaveekitrattana’s personal bank account.

Chutima Sidasathian is facing six more charges of criminal defamation in four cases in connection with four other Facebook posts published in June 2023. All of the cases stem from the Facebook posts in which she accused the local authorities of corruption. All complaints against her were all filed by Thanonthorn Kaveekitrattana. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, these four new cases were still at the indictment stage.

The Observatory recalls that in 2013, Chutima Sidasathian was accused of criminal defamation against the Thai Navy, after publishing an article on Phuketwan’s website that contained a paragraph reproduced from a Pulitzer award-winning Reuters article, which alleged that “Thai naval forces” were complicit in the smuggling of persecuted Rohingya minority from Myanmar. In 2015, she was acquitted of all charges.

The Observatory denounces the multiple criminal proceedings against Chutima Sidasathian, which appear to be in clear retaliation against the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression, and constitute SLAPPs.

The Observatory urges the authorities in Thailand to drop all charges against Chutima Sidasathian and put an end to any act of judicial harassment against her and all other human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory further calls on the authorities in Thailand to refrain from using strategic lawsuits against public participation to target criminalise human rights defenders, as well as to guarantee, in all circumstances, the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in international human rights law, in particular in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

 Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Chutima Sidasathian, and all other human rights defenders in Thailand;
 Drop all charges against Chutima Sidasathian and put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
 Guarantee in all circumstances the rights to freedom of expression, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party;
 Repeal the criminal defamation laws and refrain from using strategic lawsuits against public participation to target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.


• Mr. Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email:
• Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email:
• Mr. Tawee Sodsong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email:
• General Songwit Noonpackdee, Commander in Chief of the Army, Email:
• Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, Commissioner-General of the Police, Email:
• Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarinte, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email:,
• H.E. Mrs. Suphatra Srimaitreephithak, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador, Ambassador of Thailand to Belgium and Luxembourg and Head of Mission of Thailand to the European Union, Belgium, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Thailand in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, March 1, 2024

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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