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

Press release
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Paris-Geneva, May 23, 2019: 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.

“Sutharee, Nan Win, and all other individuals who have been targeted by Thammakaset should not be dragged into lengthy, costly, and baseless judicial proceedings. Thai authorities must ensure these individuals are not subjected to Thammakaset’s reprisals for their legitimate human rights work.”

Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General

On April 4, 2018, at the end of its ten-day visit to Thailand, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights issued a statement that urged the Thai government to “ensure that defamation cases are not used by businesses as a tool to undermine legitimate rights and freedoms of affected rights holders, [civil society organisations] and HRDs.”

The Observatory also calls on Thailand to immediately amend defamation provisions (Articles 326 and 328) of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act in order to bring them into line with international standards.

Read the fact sheet here:

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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) is a partnership created in 1997 by the FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and aims to intervene to prevent or remedy concrete situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union mechanism for human rights defenders implemented by international civil society.

For more information, please contact:
FIDH: Samuel Hanryon (French, English): + 33 6 72 28 42 94
OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui / Delphine Reculeau: (+41) 22 809 49 39
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