Activist sued, poultry farm promises more defamation cases
published : 29 Nov 2018 at 03:53
A defamation case by a Lop Buri poultry farm against an activist who tweeted allegations of labour abuse should be dropped, a rights group urged Wednesday, but the farm operator vowed further action against "so-called human rights defenders".
A chicken farm owned by the Thammakaset Co Ltd in Lop Buri province has been at the centre of disputes by Myanmar workers about gruelling days, lack of overtime and confiscated documents.
It has hit back with multiple defamation suits, a criminal offence in Thailand, but has yet to win.
Still the company has filed fresh defamation charges against one of the former workers, Nan Win of Myanmar, and prominent Thai activist Sutharee Wannasiri, who had shared on social media a 107-second video about the case produced by NGO Fortify Rights.
Fortify, where Sutharee worked at the time, urged the company and authorities to drop the complaint, which will reach court on December 3.
"These complaints are a form of judicial harassment and should be dropped immediately," said Amy Smith of Fortify.
The International Federation for Human Rights also condemned the lawsuit.
But Thammakaset owner Chanchai Pheamphon said he was forced to bring the suits to defend the name of his company from false allegations.
"For the past two years, everyone blamed me but they never did a proper investigation," he said, denying accusations of confiscating passports and making workers endure shifts of more than 20 hours.
"From now on, you will see that more lawsuits will be filed against a series of so-called human rights defenders in Thailand who to me are actually (rights) violators," he warned, adding that attempts at negotiation had failed.
Betagro, a Thai food giant that sells to clients around the globe, has said it cut ties with the supplier farm after the initial abuse claims.
If convicted, both Ms Sutharee and the Myanmar worker could face up to two years in prison and large fines.
Ms Sutharee said she believed the lawsuit was an "intimidation tactic".