Court acquits reporter Suchanee over chicken farm tweet

Court acquits reporter Suchanee over chicken farm tweet

Myanmar workers and supporters celebrate a victory at the Supreme Labour Court in their continuing three-year battle over Thammakaset Farm's labour conditions. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Myanmar workers and supporters celebrate a victory at the Supreme Labour Court in their continuing three-year battle over Thammakaset Farm's labour conditions. (Bangkok Post file photo)

An appeal court on Tuesday overturned charges against a television reporter who had been sentenced to two years in prison for libelling a chicken farm on Twitter.

Suchanee Cloitre was convicted in December 2019 for a Twitter post about a legal dispute over working conditions at the Thammakaset farm in Lop Buri, a supplier to Betagro before the agribusiness giant cut ties.

A 2016 complaint filed with the National Human Rights Commission claimed migrant workers at the farm had to work up to 20 hours a day,  were paid less than the minimum wage and were forced to surrender their identity documents. 

The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare ordered the farm to pay the workers 1.7 million baht in compensation – it was eventually handed over last year – but Thammakaset has filed 39 criminal and civil complaints against 22 migrant workers, journalists and activists, including Ms Suchanee.

In a statement, the court ruled that while some of the wording in her tweet had not been suitable, she had done no wrong.

"As a member of the press and a citizen, the defendant has the right to investigate, criticise and give opinion that is in the public interest," it said.

Ms Suchanee, who had been out on bail, told Reuters she felt "much relieved".

Representatives of the farm could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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