15 February 2018

นโยบาย by ประชาชน

Internal Security Operations Command, a division of the Thai army, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Isma-ae Tae, a human rights activist. The charge relates to an episode of the Thai PBS television programme นโยบาย by ประชาชน, broadcast on 5th February. In the programme, Isma-ae alleged that he had suffered physical abuse while held in detention by the army.

Isma-ae was detained in 2008, along with five other students, and was released without charge after nine days (two days beyond the maximum legal limit). He filed a civil claim for compensation, and was awarded ฿255,000 in damages for unlawful detention in 2011. (This was increased on appeal by a further ฿50,000 in 2016.)

Defamation is a criminal offence in Thailand, and libel charges are sometimes used to silence whistle-blowers and investigative journalists. In another case involving Thai PBS, a mining company sued a high school student who claimed that a river had been polluted. (The case was later dismissed.) The Nation newspaper was sued for a similar reason. (That case was settled out of court.) Also, a BBC correspondent faced a lawsuit after accusing a lawyer of fraud. (The plaintiff later dropped the case.)