17th criminal case has been filed against migrant workers and activists in Thailand

2019-08-06: Today, a trial against Thai human rights activist Nan Win begins. He has previously reported on poor conditions at the chicken farm Thammakaset in Thailand, which has filed a lawsuit on slander and defamation. These days, Thammakaset has filed a seventeenth (!) criminal case against a total of 23 defendants. All are former employees of the chicken farm, human rights activists or journalists.

The long list of police reports, lawsuits and appeals regarding defamation, computer crime and false testimony speaks a clear language: Thailand is a dangerous country for anyone who complains, reports police or reports in the media about poor working conditions.

– It is with dismay that we receive this news from Thailand. We assist the accused with financial means for legal aid and fines. The funds have been donated by Nordic companies. In addition, we are running a project to protect migrant workers in Thailand from exploitation and unethical recruitment, says Viveka Risberg, Program Manager for Sustainable Production and Consumption at Axfoundation.

Below is a summarizing list of Thammakaset police reports and lawsuit filings:

1. Criminal defamation and computer crimes case filed with Lopburi police against Migrant Workers Rights Network’s (MWRN) coordinator Bik in June 2016 – withdrawn after negotiations.

2. Theft case of timecards filed at Lopburi police against two former workers in June 2016, eventually dismissed by Lopburi prosecutors office (but re-prosecuted see case 5).

3. Criminal defamation and computer crimes case against British migrant worker’s activist Andy Hall filed in Oct 2016 at Bangkok South Criminal Court – pending summons delivery still.

4. Criminal defamation case against 14 workers for their National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) complaint filed in Nov 2016 at Don Muang Court – dismissed, perhaps attempted Appeal to Supreme Court after Appeals Court dismissed appeal on 30th May but not confirmed.

5. Theft of timecards case against two former workers dismissed by Lopburi prosecutor (case 2) filed as private prosecution at Lopburi Court and add Suthasinee Kaewleklai of MWRN as new defendant – dismissed by court at preliminary hearing and Appeal hearing on 30th June 2019, not clear if attempted appeal to Supreme Court.

6. Appeal to the Bangkok Civil Court against Sutharee Wannasiri, who, as an employee of Fortify Rights, reported on the case. Trial is scheduled for 2020.

7. Application for criminal proceedings to the Bangkok Criminal Court against the same person as above. Negotiations began on May 24, 2019 with the bail granted, the next hearing with witnesses taking place in February 2020.

8. Appeal to Bangkok Criminal Court against human rights activist Nan Win, who reported on the Thammakaset on Fortify Right’s channels and appeared at the Foreign Correspeondent’s Club of Thailand. Trial started May 24 2019 with bail granted. The next hearing will be held in February 2020.

9. New criminal case against Suthasinee Kaewleklai for FB share, filed at Lopburi police station pending summons delivery/investigation.

10. New criminal case filed against MWRN staff (2), former workers (2) and two Thai activists (Sutharee + 1) for FB shares and likes, Lopburi police station pending investigation conclusion. Some defendants attended Lopburi police station on 22nd May 2019 to give statements and provide evidence to support the investigation.

11. Criminal case filed against Thai journalist Suchanee Rungmuanporn for article publication as computer crimes criminal defamation – Lopburi prosecutor office refused to proceed after pressure (but re-prosecuted as private prosecution see case 13).

12. Thammakaset criminal prosecution against 14 workers criminal defamation and giving false information to officials related to original DLPW complaint to Lopburi DLPW filed at Lopburi Police station in Dec 2018. 6 workers summonsed to appear at police station Jan 2019 but adjourned as other 8 didn’t get summons, remains adjourned pending investigation.

13. Case 11 dismissal filed as private criminal defamation prosecution at Lopburi Court against Thai female journalist. Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint (Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code) with the Lopburi police against a female reporter Ms.Suchanee Rungmuanporn (Cloitre) from Voice TV in relation to a post on Twitter that the reporter made on September 14, 2017, regarding the Thammakaset’s labor rights abuses. The female reporter testified at the police station on May 1, 2018. On October 16, 2018, the Lopburi Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to prosecute the case. On March 1, 2019, Thammakaset filed a criminal defamation complaint (Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code) with the Lopburi Provincial Court, against the same female reporter from Voice TV. The preliminary hearing was held, and the case accepted to full criminal trial to commence September 2019. Suchanee has just become a mother.

14. New criminal defamation case filed against Nai Tun Tun Win at Bangkok South Criminal Court (two criminal defamation charges) – trial commenced 5th June 2019, bail paid and pending full trial commencement but worker has fled Thailand and bail has been seized.

15. Criminal ‘false testimony’ case filed against Nan Win at Saraburi Criminal Court – defendant summonsed to attend court on 24th June 2019 and case accepted for full trial on 6th August 2019.

16. Criminal defamation complaint (Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code) filed with the Criminal Court against Ms. Ngamsuk Rattanasatiean an admin of Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP) Facebook page concerning the post sharing from information from Fortify Rights calling “Thailand: End judicial harassment of human rights defender Nan Win and Sutharee Wannasiri.” Preliminary hearing was held on July 1st 2019.

17. Thammakaset criminal prosecution against 8 workers and one MWRN staff member Suthasinee Kaewleklai for giving false information to officials related to original DLPW complaint to Lopburi DLPW. Similar to case 12 files as private prosecutions. The latest and 17th case was filed on 18th July 2019 at Lopburi Magistrates Court. Charge is under s137 of Thai Criminal Code. Punishment if guilty 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine. The preliminary hearing in this case is scheduled for 9th September.

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#migrant workers, #thailand

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