- 8 Nov 2017
- [International Secretariat]
- Region: KINGDOM OF THAILAND
Responding to news that the Pattani Provincial Prosecutor will formally end the criminal defamation case against an Amnesty International Thailand chairperson, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, and two other human rights activists, Somchai Homla-or and Anchana Heemmina.
“While it is heartening that the charges against three brave human rights defenders have finally been dropped, the fact is they should never have been brought in the first place.
“Thailand needs to take seriously its responsibility to create an environment in which human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of retaliation. All charges must be dropped against those who are imprisoned or facing criminal proceedings merely for exercising their human rights peacefully.
“The Thai government must also immediately decriminalise defamation, as these laws are often used to prosecute those reporting torture and other rights violations. Even if a case does not go to trial, the filing of criminal complaints and charges are a potent form of harassment that has a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”
On 17 May 2016, the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 initiated criminal defamation and computer crimes charges against the three human rights defenders, who edited the report documenting 54 cases of torture and other ill-treatment by the Royal Thai Police and Royal Thai Army.
In March 2017, after significant campaigning by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, military officials stated that they would withdraw the charges. However, only the criminal defamation charges were withdrawn at that time.
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