Eighty-nine organizations denounce SLAPP-suits against human rights defenders by Thai poultry corporation | Press release

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(updated 14 February 2019)

Bangkok, 14 February 2019 – Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada is one of 89 international, regional, and local organizations from around the world that signed a joint letter to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha seeking immediate steps by Thailand’s government to oppose a series of criminal defamation charges filed against human rights defenders by a Thai-owned poultry farm, Thammakaset Company Limited (Thammakaset). The joint letter denounces Thammakaset’s actions as part of a campaign of harassment and reprisals in the form of Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP-suits).

Since 2016, Thammakaset has filed more than 13 civil and criminal complaints against 14 former employees and human rights defenders who reported labour rights violations to Thailand’s Department of Protection and Labour Welfare (DLPW) and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). After investigation, the DLPW, the NHRCT and Thailand’s Supreme Court all found Thammakaset responsible for violations under the Labour Protection Act, and the company was ordered to compensate the workers. Numerous other criminal defamation charges filed by Thammakaset against the 14 former employees have been dismissed by police, public prosecutors or the Sub-District Court in Thailand.

Despite these rulings, Thammakaset continues to file new criminal and civil charges against former employees and human rights defenders who have reported the company’s labour abuses, and authorities have recently allowed Thammakaset’s new complaints to progress to investigation and judicial proceedings against Mr. Nan Win, a former Thammakaset employee, and Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, a former human rights specialist with Fortify Rights.

The joint letter urges the Thai government to make submissions in these new court proceedings to oppose the lawsuits on the grounds that they violate Thailand’s anti-SLAPP provisions under a recent amendment to Section 161/1 of Thailand’s Criminal Procedure Code. The joint letter explains that Thammakaset’s SLAPP-suits contravene internationally protected rights and calls on Thailand to further revise its laws and policies to decriminalize defamation and ensure that laws cannot be used to punish those seeking remedies for suspected violations. The joint letter also asks that anti-SLAPP laws and policies be incorporated into Thailand’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights (BHR).

For further information see the letter at https://www.lrwc.org/new-lawsuits-brought-by-thammakaset-company-limited-against-human-rights-defenders/ or contact Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada: Email research@lrwc.org or telephone +1-604-736-1175.