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Phuket reporters Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian present documents to Human Rights Commissioner Dr Niran Pitakwatchara

Navy Pursuit of Phuket Reporters Probed

Saturday, April 5, 2014
PHUKET: Thailand's Human Rights Commission aims to look more closely at a controversial case following an interview session with two Phuketwan journalists and their lawyers yesterday in Bangkok.

The Royal Thai Navy's use of criminal defamation and the Computer Crimes Act to pursue the small Phuket media outlet puzzles the commission in the same way it puzzles journalists Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison.

Dr Niran Pitakwatchara, chairman of the sub-committee for civil and political rights, said that Thai and international law supported the principle of the media's freedom to report on government organisations and government activities.

The Computer Crimes Act was created for use against hackers, not for the military to sue the media, he said at the commission's office in Bangkok, where the committee met.

''This law should not be used to put pressure on the media or stop the media doing its job,'' Dr Niran said.

The case could set a precedent for misuse of the law against other media or individuals, he said.

Committee members singled out public interest and media freedom as the key principles that appeared to be being put at risk.

One committee member doubted whether it was even possible to legitimately combine criminal defamation with the Computer Crimes Act, as has been done for the first time by the Navy in the case against Phuketwan .

No reason has been given by Phuket police for accepting the Navy's action and submitting the case to the Phuket prosecutor, Khun Chutima told the hearing.

The Navy's legal action is based on one paragraph carried word for word from a Reuters special report on Rohingya boatpeople republished in excerpts on Phuketwan on July 17 last year.

The paragraph's originators, Reuters, and Thai-language news outlets that translated and republished the same paragraph have not been charged.

The Phuket journalists are due to learn from the Phuket prosecutor on April 17 whether the matter will be taken to court.

Several Thai media outlets reported on yesterday's interviews by the Human Rights Commission, which coincided with the start of a 30-day countdown to World Media Freedom Day on May 3.

The Navy's legal action and the growing amount of criticism of it has created greater awareness of the unjust application of the Computer Crimes Act and highlighted Thailand's treatment of the Rohingya boatpeople.

Comments

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Congratulations ! : ) I also hope they're looking into the trafficking system which seems to exist throughout the country.

Posted by James on April 6, 2014 10:24

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The strong support of Dr Niran Pitakwatchara, chairman of the sub-committee for civil and political rights of NHCT to Phuketwan's journalists are highly appreciable . We ardently ask all civil societies' leaders to come forwards and stand by braved journalist of Phuketwan.They deserve every cooperation of global freedom loving people . Insult to journalist is insult to the freedom of the world .It's great insult to humanity ,too! Save the humanity and freedom of writing and speech !

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand ,BRAT. on April 9, 2014 23:38


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