Thailand: Judicial harassment against woman rights defender Nada Chaiyajit
Copyright: The People magazine
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
THA 003 / 0922 / OBS 071
September 21, 2022
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed about the judicial harassment against Ms. Nada Chaiyajit, a human rights defender and human rights campaign advisor at the Manushya Foundation, a member organisation of FIDH in Thailand. Ms. Nada has been active on LGBTQI+ issues and corporate accountability for the past 15 years, and is also the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) advisor for the Thai Business and Human Rights Network, on whose behalf she has submitted complaints to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) and government agencies related to gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
On September 10, 2022, Nada Chaiyajit received a court summons issued on August 22, 2022, ordering her to appear on October 31, 2022, at the Bangkok Criminal Court for a preliminary hearing during which she will be informed of potential charges against her. This summons followed a complaint filed under Articles 326 (“defamation”), 328 (“libel”), and 91 ("multiple distinct offenses") of Thailand’s Criminal Code, by Mr. Santsith Naothaworn, a politician and elected Bangkok councillor from the Move Forward Party (MFP). The complaint by Mr. Santsith stems from several social media posts published by Nada Chaiyajit in May 2022, in which Ms. Nada alleged Mr. Santsith had sexually harassed a transgender woman who was employed at his company. In the posts, Nada Chaiyajit claimed that the transgender woman was repeatedly subjected to several acts of harassment by the politician, before she was eventually laid off.
In addition to speaking out for her on social media, Nada Chaiyajit supported the transgender woman with submitting a complaint to the NHRCT on June 15, 2022. As part of NHRCT’s investigation, which is still ongoing, the MFP was requested to respond. After the Disciplinary and Ethics Committee of the MFP conducted an investigation, the board found that Mr. Santsith was responsible for sexual harassment. As a result, the party suspended his participation in the party’s events, and banned him from carrying any additional political portfolios as a member of the Bangkok Metropolitan Council for one year. Mr. Santsith was also placed on probation to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Subsequently, on July 18, 2022, a compensation agreement between the politician and the victim of the sexual harassment was signed before the Thai Department of Labour Protection and Welfare for violation of labour rights, because Mr. Santsith did not respect the one-month notice to dismiss an employee, as provided by Thai law.
The Observatory notes with concern that defamation cases and Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are frequently used in Thailand by both state and non-state actors to harass journalists, political activists, human rights defenders, and organisations to ultimately suppress their right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in international human rights law, and particularly in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a state party.
The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment against Nada Chaiyajit, which seems to be only aimed at preventing her from exercising her right to freedom of expression and her legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory calls for the respect of Nada Chaiyajit’s rights to due process and fair trial, and for an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her, as well as all other human rights defenders in the country.
The Observatory also urge the Thai government to repeal criminal defamation provision of the Criminal Code.
Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Nada Chaiyajit and all other human rights defenders in Thailand;
ii. Guarantee the respect of Nada Chaiyajit’s rights to due process and fair trial;
iii. End all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Nada Chaiyajit and all other human rights defenders in the country, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.
- Mr. Prawit Wongsuwan, Acting Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: email@example.com
- Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarintr, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- H.E. Ms. Suphatra Srimaitreephithak, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Thailand in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, September 21, 2022
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
- Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39