May 18, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed concerns for the criminal defamation proceedings against a Thai journalist by a mining company over his reporting. The IFJ called for the charges to be immediately dropped.
On March 20, 2017, the mining company, Myanmar Phongpipat Co., Ltd. (MPC) filed charges against Thai journalist Pratch Rujivanarom and his employer the Nation News Agency under Thailand’s Criminal Code, section 59, 83, 91, 326 and 328 and under the Computer Crimes Act, section 14. All charges related to defamation for reporting by Pratch on tailings from tin mine, managed by MPC, draining directly into the river system, which is the main source of drinking water of villagers in Myaung Pyo village, Tanintharyi region, Myanmar.
If convicted of criminal defamation under Section 328 of the Thai Criminal Code and Section 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, this Nation journalist would face up to five years’ imprisonment, 200,000 Thai Baht (US$5,600) in fines, or both.
Over 80 Thai and Myanmar NGOs signed a joint letter demanding MPC dropped the charges against Pratch and the Nation News Agency immediately.
The IFJ said: “Defamation is fast becoming the tool of choice for state and non-state actors to silence critical voices across Southeast Asia. The IFJ calls for the charges against Pratch and the Nation News Agency to be immediately dropped and for Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act to be repealed as it continues to be used to suppress press freedom in Thailand.” – IFJ media release
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