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Thailand
27.12.19
Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment against former Voice TV reporter Ms. Suchanee Cloitre

THA 003 / 1219 / OBS 114
Sentencing / Judicial harassment

Thailand
December 27, 2019


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointpartnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requestsyour urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicialharassment against former Voice TVreporter Ms. Suchanee Cloitre, in relation to a tweet she posted onSeptember 14, 2017, regarding labour rights abuses by the Thai poultry companyThammakaset Co., Ltd [1].

According to the information received, on December 24, 2019, the LopburiProvincial Court found Ms. Suchanee guilty of “defamation” (Article 326 of theThai Criminal Code) and “libel” (Article 328) and sentenced her to two years inprison.

The trial and conviction of Ms. Suchanee stems from a complaint filed bythe Thai poultry company Thammakaset Co., Ltd. with the Lopburi ProvincialCourt on March 1, 2019, in relation to the above-mentioned tweet.

After the sentence, Ms. Suchanee was released on a 75,000 Baht(approximately 2,250 Euros) bail. Ms. Suchanee will appeal the verdict.

During the pre-trial phase, Ms. Suchanee’s lawyer submitted to the courta motion to request the dismissal of the case under Section 165/2 of theCriminal Procedure Code, alleging that Thammakaset’s criminal complaint lackedmerit because it amounted to judicial harassment against a human rights defender.However, the court refused to consider the motion.

The Observatory notesthat on October 16, 2018, the Lopburi PublicProsecutor’s Office decided not to prosecute a similar case that stemmed from acriminal defamation complaint that Thammakaset filed with the Lopburi policeagainst Ms. Suchanee.

The Observatory recallsthat Thammakaset has filed at least two dozen criminal and civil cases againsta total of more than 20 defendants, including human rights defenders, workers,and journalists for alleged defamation of the company[2].Human rights defenders targeted by Thammakaset include Mr. Andy Hall[3], Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, Mr. NanWin[4],and Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit[5].

The Observatory alsorecalls that on April 4, 2018, at the end of its10-day visit to Thailand, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business andHuman Rights issued a statement that urged the Thai government to “ensure thatdefamation cases are not used by businesses as a tool to undermine legitimaterights and freedoms of affected rights holders, [civil society organizations]and human rights defenders.”

The Observatorycondemns the prison sentence and ongoing judicial harassment against Ms.Suchanee Cloitre as they seemto be only aimed at punishing her for the legitimate exercise of her right tofreedom of expression. The Observatory calls on Thai authorities to immediatelyput an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, againstMs. Suchanee Cloitre and all other human rights defenders targeted by civil andcriminal defamation complaints filed by Thammakaset.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Put anend to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms.Suchanee Cloitre, and all other human rights defenderstargeted by Thammakaset;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders inThailand are able to carry out their legitimate activities without anyhindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii.Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of opinion and expressionguaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights (ICCPR);

iv. Repealcriminal defamation provisions (Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code);

v. Complywith all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particularArticles 1, and 12;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments to which Thailand is a State party.

Addresses:

· Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha,Prime Minister of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131

· Mr. Don Pramudwinai,Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th

· Mr. Somsak Thepsutin,Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503

· Pol Gen ChaktipChaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Fax: +66 (0) 2 2515956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702

· Mr. Wat Tingsamit,Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th

· H.E. Mr. ThaniThongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations inGeneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Thailand inBrussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respectivecountries.

***

Paris-Geneva, December 27, 2019

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

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 byFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

[1] In August 2016,Thailand's Department of Labour Protection and Welfare ordered Thammakaset topay workers affected by labour rights violations (forced to work up to 20 hoursper day without a day off for 40 or more days in a row, paid less than theminimum wage, provided with no overtime compensation, confiscated their identitydocuments) a total of 1.7 million Baht (approximately 50,900 Euros) incompensation and damages. The money was only handed over in 2019. Ms. SuchaneeCloitre’s tweet made reference to this decision.

[2] Seethe Observatory Factsheet, “Thammakaset vs. human rights defenders and workersin Thailand”, published on May 23, 2019: https://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/reports-and-publications/thailand/2019/05/d25357/

[3] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal THA 003 / 0815 / OBS 067.5,published on May 23, 2019.

[4] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal THA 005 / 1118 / OBS 137.1,published on March 28, 2019.

[5] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal THA 002 / 1119 / OBS 098,published on November 27, 2019.

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