Thai defamation law represses activists

‘LAWS SERVE THE POWERFUL’

Politicians and corporations have long used defamation to squelch criticism of misconduct, abuse and corruption, said Sunai Phasuk, senior researcher on Thailand for Human Rights Watch.

Some cases are so absurd that “victims of torture are being sued by the alleged perpetrators of abuse”, said Sunai, referring to the case of Suderueman Malae.

Suderueman had testified under oath that he and others had been tortured in police custody. Police Major General Chakthip Chaijinda sued Suderueman, and in 2011, a court sentenced Suderueman to two years in prison for making a false statement to authorities.

“Regardless of who is in power, there is no interest in amending the law because it serves the interests of the powerful in politics and in the business community,” Sunai said.

Thai courts used to rule overwhelmingly in favour of the powerful plaintiffs, but that is changing, Sunai said, pointing to a case against an energy activist that was dismissed.

Still, Hall’s case could discourage other activists from exposing wrongdoings by employers, a Thai labour union said.

“If that happens, that would be very sad because migrant workers will face problems but won’t have anyone championing their cause,” said Sawit Kaewvarn, secretary-general of Thailand’s State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation.

Read the whole article by Thin Lei Win from trust.org and how defamation act shoud be decriminalised!

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