Thailand: Amicus Curiae Brief in the Case of Chutima Sidasathian | Joint Amicus Brief, LRWC and ICJ

Amicus Curiae Brief in the case of the defendant Dr. Chutima Sidasathian (Black Case Number 970/2566 at Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Court)

หนังสือเพื่อนศาล (Amicus Curiae Brief) ในคดีที่ดร.ชุติมา สีดาเสถียร เป็นจำเลย             

        (คดีหมายเลขดำที่ 970/2566 ศาลจังหวัดนครราชสีมา)

See the full pdf amicus brief EN and TH ภาษาไทย

On 1 February 2024, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) jointly submitted an amicus curiae brief to Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Court in the criminal defamation proceeding against Thai human rights defender Chutima Sidasathian, who faces trial from 6-8 February 2024 on three counts of criminal defamation after she issued social media posts raising questions about the management of a community banking institution and actions of its chair. Villagers were forced to pay back loans of monies they had never received.

The purpose of the brief is to present to the Court the nature and scope of Thailand’s international legal obligations relating to rights of freedom of expression and information set out in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand has been a State Party since 1996. The brief argues that “the imposition of criminal liability, particularly that entailing harsh penalties such as imprisonment or large fines on human rights defenders for reporting issues of public interest online has a ‘chilling effect’ on the exercise of freedom of expression, which Thailand is bound to protect pursuant to its international legal obligations. These obligations include those contained in human rights treaties to which Thailand is a party.

Criminal defamation, under section 326 of the Thai Criminal Code, carries a maximum sentence of one year of imprisonment, a fine of up to 20,000 Baht (approx. USD 560), or both. Section 328 criminalizes defamation “by means of publication” with up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 200,000 Baht (approx. USD 5,600). 

For background, see LRWC’s report issued 25 January 2024 in English and Thai ภาษาไทย