Protection International welcomes the decision taken by military authorities to withdraw their claims against human rights defenders, Mr. Sarayuth Ritthipin, journalist, and Mr. Chadet (Jadet) Kaewsin, community and land rights defender. On 11 December 2016 in a statement referring to Lieutenant Roengchinjarun Woothisarn and Police Lieutenant Colonel Chansak Sutaroang, deputy director for investigation, the defenders were informed in writing that they will not be prosecuted.

The case regards a complaint that the 2nd Infantry Division, of the 8th Infantry Regiment filed against both human rights defenders on 3 October 2016 for allegations of libel offence and computer-related violations against government authorities, specifically ‘bringing into a computer system false or forged information, partly or as a whole’, under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act. Both were accused of posting a news article online titled, “Military raided home asking to meet Phu Pha Man land activists” written for E-san Land Reform News Agency. They were summoned on 17 October 2016 from the Chum Phae Police Station in Khon Kaen city, E-san, Northeastern Thailand.

We welcome the decision taken to withdraw the legal actions against Chadet Kaewsin and Sarayuth Ritthipin and we continue to support their legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights.

Download the full PDF statement.

 


Background:

Chadet Kaewsin is a land rights defender and paralegal volunteer part of E-san Land Reform network who helps villagers of landless communities in E-san to gain access to legal services in order to defend their land rights. He is campaigning against the use of cabinet resolution on mapping of land location which will make his community lose their rights to land under the reforest policy launched by NCPO (National Council for Peace and Order) since July 2014.

Sarayuth Rittipin is a land rights defender and a news reporter of E-san Land Reform News Agency. This news agency actively reports on the human rights campaigns of landless communities in E-san, Northeastern Thailand. The E-san community has been affected by continued land redistribution and relocation programs since 1963. The Forest Protection policy which was announced in 2014 by the junta government on the reclamation and restoration of protected areas nationwide has led to roughly 1800 families in E-san being accused of land encroachment.

Both Chadet and Sarayuth have been working tirelessly in the search for their comrade Mr. Den Kamlae. Since 2015 Den Kamlae has been leading the network of local villagers who have been trying to re-establish their rights over their land. He was last seen on 16 April 2016 in the custody of local authorities, and to date the whereabouts of Mr Den Kamlae remain unknown.

The junta government continues to intimidate, arrest, and forcibly evict people in E-san. In this context, judicial harassment is seen as one of the strategies used to counter attack the peaceful and democratic actions of human rights defenders.