The U.S. State Department’s 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, published on March 31, cites Fortify Rights documentation of human trafficking and problematic “pushback” policies in Malaysia, saying:
“The NGO Fortify Rights reported that on April 16, the Bangladesh Coast Guard rescued 396 Rohingya from a boat that was adrift for weeks, sustaining up to 60 fatalities; earlier Malaysian authorities had forced it back out to sea. They also reported that on April 16, the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Royal Malaysian Navy forced another boat with more than 200 Rohingya back to sea. On June 8, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob reported that authorities had blocked the arrival of 22 boats with foreigners, excluding the boats carrying Rohingya refugees, since May 1.”
The report directly referenced our April 17 news release with testimony from Rohingya trafficking survivors describing how Malaysian authorities pushed them out to sea in violation of the principle of non-refoulment and an earlier news release published on April 10 on the Malaysian authorities’ interception of a boat carrying more than 200 Rohingya.
The 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices included issues raised by Fortify Rights on the ongoing judicial harassment of human rights defenders by Thai poultry company Thammakaset Company Limited. Thai authorities have allowed the company to bring at least 37 complaints against 22 human rights defenders under Thailand’s criminal defamation law.
Fortify Rights has been at the forefront of bringing attention to these cases and supporting human rights defenders facing legal action brought by Thammakaset. Since 2018, Fortify Rights issued at least 40 publications, including 21 news releases, two joint statements, two open letters and five short films, on the cases and provided regular updates to members of the diplomatic community through at least 15 private meetings and communications. Fortify Rights also conducted at least 36 activities, including court monitoring and securing more than US$50,000 in emergency relief assistance to support human rights defenders targeted by Thammakaset.