Urgent Interventions

Ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri and Mr. Nan Win


THA 005 / 1118 / OBS 137.1


28, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership ofFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation inThailand.


The Observatory has been informed by reliable sourcesabout the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, a humanrights consultant and former Thailand Human Rights Specialist with thenon-governmental organisation (NGO) Fortify Rights[1], and Mr. Nan Win, amigrant worker from Myanmar, for denouncing labour rights violations by theThai poultry company Thammakaset[2],against migrant workers from Myanmar.

According to the information received, on March 25,2019, the Criminal Court in Bangkok decided that the defamation case filed by Thammakasetagainst Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri should proceed. The trial of Ms. SuthareeWannasiri is set to begin on May 24, 2019. The Court also decided to combineher case with the case of Mr. Nan Win, which the Criminal Court had alreadyruled, on March 8, 2019, that it should proceed.

The Observatoryrecalls that Thammakaset filed separate defamation complaints against Mr. NanWin and Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri on October 8 and 12, 2018, respectively. Thecomplaints relate to Mr. Nan Win and Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri’s public commentsand reporting of labour rights violations at Thammakaset farm (see backgroundinformation). If convicted, Mr. Nan Win faces up to four years’ imprisonmentand/or a fine of up to 400,000 Thai Baht (around 10,600 EUR) under Articles 326(‘defamation’) and 328 (‘libel’) of the Criminal Code (on two counts). Ifconvicted, Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri faces up to six years in prison and/or a fineof up to 600,000 Thai Baht (around 16,000 EUR) under the same Articles (onthree counts).

The Observatorycondemns the continuing judicial harassment against Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri andMr. Nan Win, as well as Thammakaset’s recurrent attempts to harass human rightsdefenders and migrant workers denouncing labour rights violations, and inhibittheir legitimate activities and the exercise of their right to freedom ofexpression (see background information).

The Observatoryurges the Thai authorities to dismiss the above-mentioned complaints and totake pro-active steps to prevent further similar complaints, such as bydecriminalizing defamation and requiring companies in Thailand to uphold theirhuman rights obligations under Thai law and their responsibilities under theUnited Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Background information:

On October 6, 2016, Thammakaset brought criminaldefamation and other charges - under Articles 137 and 326 of the Criminal Code- against 14 migrant workers from Myanmar after the workers submitted a complaint to theNational Human Rights Commission of Thailand, alleging that the company hadcommitted labour rights violations. On July 11, 2018, the Don Mueang MagistrateCourt in Bangkok found that the 14 migrant workers were not guilty of criminaldefamation and that their allegations of labour rights violations against thecompany were reasonable and well-founded.

On November 4, 2016, Thammakaset also filed complaintsfor criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crimes Act against Mr. AndyHall, a British labour rights defender, for his social media posts thathighlighted the 14 migrant workers’ case. The complaint against Andy Hall isstill pending at the Bangkok South Criminal Court[3].

In September 2017, the Court of Appeals upheld anorder issued by the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare in LopburiProvince in August 2016, which required Thammakaset to pay 1.7 million ThaiBaht (around 45,200 EUR) in compensation to the 14 workers for violations ofThailand’s Labour Protection Act. On March 12, 2019, the Supreme Courtconfirmed the ruling and compensation was granted to the 14 workers.

In October 2017, Thammakaset brought further theftcharges against Ms. Ye Ye and Mr. Soe Yong, two of theabove-mentioned 14 migrant workers, and Ms. Suthasinee Kaewleklai, alabour rights activist and the Thailand coordinator of the Migrant WorkersRights Network (MWRN), a civil society organisation promoting and protectingthe rights of migrant workers. The charges stemmed from the fact that theysubmitted their employment timecards, which the company alleged they had“stolen”, to the labour inspector officer as evidence of alleged labour rightsviolations. On September 3, 2018, the Lopburi Provincial Court dismissed themerit of the complaint regarding the alleged theft of timecards by the twomigrant workers and Ms. Suthasinee Kaewleklai.

On October 4, 2017, Fortify Rights published on YouTubea 107-second video clip, in which Burmese migrant workers, including Mr. NanWin, described how Thammakaset had filed criminal defamation complaints againstthem after the workers reported labour rights violations to the authorities.Violations included being paid less than the minimum wage, not being paidovertime wages, and confiscation of their identity documents, includingpassports. The video clip called on the Thai authorities to drop criminaldefamation charges against the 14 Burmese migrant workers and to abolishcriminal defamation laws in Thailand.

On October 6, 2017, Fortify Rights held a pressconference on human rights defenders in Southeast Asia at the ForeignCorrespondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok, during which Mr. Nan Win gave a testimony.

On October 8, 2018, Thammakaset filed a criminaldefamation complaint against Mr. Nan Win, based on his testimony at the FortifyRights press conference held on October 6, 2017, and his testimony for FortifyRights’ short video clip. The company alleged that his testimonies, whichcontained details of alleged labour rights abuses while he was working at theThammakaset farm, damaged the company’s reputation.

On October 12, 2018, Thammakaset also filed adefamation complaint before the Bangkok Criminal Court against Ms. SuthareeWannasiri. The complaint relates to three comments Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri madeon Twitter about the shortvideo clip.

On October 26, 2018, Thammakaset also filed a separatecivil defamation complaint against Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri with the Civil Courtin Bangkok, demanding 5,000,000 Thai Baht (around 133,000 EUR) in compensationfor damage to the company’s reputation. The complaint is related to the sameabove-mentioned three Twitter comments and demands that Ms. Sutharee Wannasiripublish an apology to the company in four local newspapers and on her Twitteraccount for a minimum of 30 days and covers all legal costs. The Civil Courtin Bangkok held a preliminary hearing for this case on December 24, 2018. TheCivil Court scheduled witness hearings on August 27-30, 2019.


Please write to the authorities of Thailand askingthem to:

i. Put anend to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms.Sutharee Wannasiri, Mr. Nan Win, and all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii.Ensure in all circumstances that human rightsdefenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate activities withoutany hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii.Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of expression as requiredby Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR) and abolish criminal defamation laws;

iv.Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on HumanRights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, inparticular with its Articles 1 and 12;

v. Ensurein all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with international human rights standards and international instrumentsratified by Thailand.


· Gen.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 6435320; Email:

· AirChief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2953 0503

· PolGen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Fax: +66(0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702

· Mr.Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand,Email:

· H.E.Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the UnitedNations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email:

· Embassyof Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66;

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in yourrespective countries.


Paris-Geneva, March 28, 2019

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (theObservatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedysituations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are bothmembers of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

[1] Fortify Rights is an international NGO thatworks to prevent and remedy human rights violations, investigate abuses, andprovide technical support to human rights defenders.

[2] Thammakaset Co. Ltd. operates chicken farmsin Lopburi Province.

[3] Formore information see Observatory Urgent Appeal THA 003 / 0815 / OBS 067.4, published on March 28, 2018.