Thammakaset must end its judicial harassment of human rights defenders


Paris-Geneva, May 23, 2019: Thai company Thammakaset must immediatelyend all acts of harassment against human rights defenders and workers forexposing labour rights violations at its poultry farm, the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint FIDH-OMCT partnership), urgestoday. The Observatory makes its call on the eve of the start of the trialagainst human rights defenders (HRDs) Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, a human rightsspecialist from Thailand, and Mr. Nan Win, a former worker at the Thammakasetfarm, from Myanmar.

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

“The ongoing attack by Thammakasetagainst human rights defenders endangers Thailand's reputation as a globalexporter of food products. The Thai authorities and Thammakaset's stakeholdersmust act urgently to ensure that the company immediately withdraws allcomplaints filed against defenders and workers, and upholds its responsibilityto respect human rights,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

The Observatory also calls on Thaijudicial authorities to dismiss all existing cases filed by Thammakaset againstthe HRDs and workers for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom ofopinion and expression and to ensure that no further legal actions against themare pursued.

“Sutharee, Nan Win, and all otherindividuals who have been targeted by Thammakaset should not be dragged intolengthy, costly, and baseless judicial proceedings. Thai authorities mustensure these individuals are not subjected to Thammakaset’s reprisals for theirlegitimate human rights work,” said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

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

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

Read the report here: Thailand_OBS_Report_2019.05

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (theObservatory) is a partnership created in 1997 by the FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) and aims to intervene to prevent or remedyconcrete situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCTare both members of, the European Union mechanism for humanrights 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 4939

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