(BANGKOK, March 30, 2022)—On March 30, 2022, an appeals court in Thailand upheld a lower court’s judgment to acquit Myanmar migrant rights defender Nan Win and former Fortify Rights Thailand Human Rights Specialist Sutharee Wannasiri of criminal defamation charges brought by controversial Thai chicken farm Thammakaset Co. Ltd. This ruling comes more than three years after Thammakaset lodged complaints with the court related to a Fortify Rights’s film on the right to freedom of expression, which featured former Thammakaset employees.
Fortify Rights monitored the verdict hearing and published a news release the following day calling on the Thai authorities to drop other cases brought by Thammakaset against human rights defenders, including a member of U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Angkhana Neelapaijit, Fortify Rights’s former Senior Human Rights Specialist Puttannee Kangkun, and Fortify Rights’s former Communications Associate Thanaporn Saleephol.
Since the start of the case against Nan Win and Sutharee Wannasiri in 2018, Fortify Rights has consistently advocated for an end to this case and others brought by Thammakaset against human rights defenders, including through at least 33 publications, including 27 news releases, three open letters, two statements, seven short films, and one profile. We also helped raise attention to these cases and the human rights defenders affected by them through 12 social media cards. We provided regular updates on the cases to members of the diplomatic community through at least 19 private meetings and communications. Fortify Rights has also provided regular support to human rights defenders facing judicial harassment by Thammakaset, including by securing more than US$50,000 in emergency relief grants to cover their legal expenses, court administrative fees, and personal expenses of the affected human rights defenders.
Thammakaset has brought at least 37 complaints against 22 human rights defenders since 2016. The courts have dismissed or ruled against the company in most cases. Despite this, Thai authorities continue to consider criminal defamation complaints brought by Thammakaset against human rights defenders.