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Thailand
27.11.19
Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit

URGENT APPEAL - THEOBSERVATORY

THA 002 / 1119 / OBS 098
Judicial harassment

Thailand
November 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 of Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit, a former commissioner of theNational Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). She has campaigned onnumerous human rights issues in Thailand, including: human rights violations inthe country’s 'Deep South'; rights of ethnic minorities and stateless people;enforced disappearances; and protection of human rights defenders. She is awinner of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2019[1].

According to the information received, on October 25, 2019, Thai companyThammakaset Co. Ltd., which operated chicken farms in Lopburi Province,filed a criminal defamation complaint againstMs. Angkhana Neelapaijit with the Bangkok South Criminal Court. Thammakaset alleged that Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit violatedArticles 326 (‘defamation’) and 328 (‘libel’) of Thailand’s Criminal Code by publishing two tweets in support of woman humanrights defender Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri[2]and lecturer Ms. Ngamsuk Ruttanasatain on December 3, 2018 and June 28, 2019,respectively. Thammakaset has filed criminal defamation complaints against bothMs. Sutharee Wannasiri and Ms. Ngamsuk Ruttanasatain.

In her first 2018 tweet, Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit mentioned another tweet posted by a third person,which referred to a statement concerning the case of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri.The statement to which Ms. Angkhana referred contained a hyperlink to a videoclip published by the NGO Fortify Rights on October 4, 2017, in which Burmesemigrant workers employed by Thammakaset, including Mr. Nan Win, described how the company filed criminal defamationcomplaints against them after the workers reported labour rights violations tothe Thai authorities. In her second tweet, Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit mentioned aFortify Rights Press release that also contained a hyperlink to theabove-mentioned video clip. Thammakaset considersthe video clip defamatory and alleges that all reference to it is alsodefamatory.

The court scheduled a mediation hearing betweenThammakaset and Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit for February 12, 2020. If themediation fails, a preliminary hearing in Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit’s case is set forFebruary 24, 2020. If found guilty, Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit could face up tofour years in prison and a fine of up to 400,000 Thai baht (approximately12,000 Euros).

The Observatory recalls that Thammakaset hasalready filed at least two dozen criminal and civil cases against a total ofmore than 20 defendants, including human rights defenders, workers, andjournalists for alleged defamation of the company[3].

The Observatory also recalls that on April 4, 2018, at the end of its 10-day visit toThailand, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rightsissued a statement that urged the Thai government to “ensure that defamationcases are not used by businesses as a tool to undermine legitimate rights andfreedoms of affected rights holders, [civil society organizations] and HRDs.”

The Observatorycondemns the judicial harassment of Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit as it seems to be only aimed at punishing her forthe legitimate exercise of her right to freedom of expression. The Observatorycalls on Thai authorities to immediately put an end to any act of harassmentagainst Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit, Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, Mr. Nan Win, and allthe human rights defenders targeted over defamation charges 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. AngkhanaNeelapaijit, Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, Mr. Nan Win as wellas all human rights defenders in Thailand.

ii. Ensure in allcircumstances that human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry outtheir legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

iii. Guarantee in all circumstancesthe right to freedom of expression as required by Article 19 of theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

iv. Amend defamation provisions(Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code) in order to bring them into linewith international standards.

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, November 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit is also the wife of human rights lawyer SomchaiNeelapaijit, who disappeared on March 12, 2004.

[2] Ms.Sutharee Wannasiri is one of the defendants against which Thammakaset filed acriminal defamation complaint. See Observatory Urgent Appeal THA 005 / 1118 / OBS 137.1, published on March 28, 2019.

[3] Seethe Observatory Factsheet, “Thammakaset vs. human rights defenders and workersin Thailand”, published on May 23, 2019: https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/thailand-thammakaset-must-end-its-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights @font-face { font-family: "MS Mincho";}@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math";}@font-face { font-family: Tahoma;}@font-face { font-family: Roboto;}@font-face { font-family: OpenSymbol;}@font-face { font-family: "@MS Mincho";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }h1 { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; text-indent: 0cm; break-after: avoid; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; font-weight: normal; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 16.95pt; text-indent: -16.95pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }p.MsoHeader, li.MsoHeader, div.MsoHeader { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }p.MsoFooter, li.MsoFooter, div.MsoFooter { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }p.MsoBodyText, li.MsoBodyText, div.MsoBodyText { margin: 0cm 0cm 7pt; line-height: 120%; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: rgb(149, 79, 114); text-decoration: underline; }span.Heading1Char { }span.Caractresdenotedebasdepage { vertical-align: super; }span.WW-FootnoteReference11 { vertical-align: super; }span.BodyTextChar { }span.FooterChar { }span.HeaderChar { }p.ListParagraph1, li.ListParagraph1, div.ListParagraph1 { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 36pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }span.FootnoteTextChar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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