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Phuket Defamation Case: Call for Navy to Investigate Allegations of Abuse

Phuket Defamation Case: Call for Navy to Investigate Allegations of Abuse

Saturday, December 21, 2013
BANGKOK: The Royal Thai Navy should immediately drop the criminal defamation charges lodged on Wednesday against two journalists in connection with a report on alleged military abuses of ethnic Rohingya people, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today (Friday).

Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, reporters for the news website Phuketwan, were charged under the 2007 Computer Crime Act at the Vichit police station on the southern island of Phuket, according to a Phuketwan report. They were released after being charged and told to report to the police station on December 24, the report said.

If convicted, each journalist faces five years in prison and/or fines of 100,000 baht (US$3125). Both reporters have denied the charges.

The complaint was filed by Captain Panlob Komtonlok on behalf of the Royal Thai Navy, the first time a representative of the Thai armed forces has used the Computer Crime Act to sue journalists, according to Phuketwan.

The charges stem from the headline of and a paragraph in a story published on July 17 in Phuketwan that alleged the Thai military was involved in trafficking-for-profit of minority Rohingya boatpeople who fled persecution in Burma and entered Thai waters. Thai Navy authorities have denied the allegations.

Morison told CPJ that the headline and several paragraphs of the story had originally been published in a Reuters Special Report that Phuketwan had reprinted and credited in its story. The Phuketwan story also included independent coverage.

''Rather than shooting the messenger, the Royal Thai Navy would be better suited launching an internal investigation into the serious allegations of abuse that have been raised,'' said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. ''This type of legal intimidation aims ultimately at discouraging media reporting on allegations of serious human rights abuses.''

Barb Burg, Reuters' global head of communications, released a statement on Thursday saying: ''Our story was fair and balanced and Reuters has not been accused of criminal libel.''

Thai officials quoted in news reports earlier this year said that they will push back boats of Rohingya refugees that arrive in Thai sovereign waters. Human Rights Watch said in a March statement that Thai Navy officers fired on and killed two Rohingya refugees during a push-back operation on February 22, 2013.

''We wish the Royal Thai Navy would clear its reputation by explaining precisely what is happening to the Rohingya in the Andaman Sea and in Thailand,'' Phuketwan said in a statement released on Wednesday in response to the charges. ''By instead using a controversial law against us, the Navy is, we believe, acting out of character.''

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organisation that promotes press freedom worldwide.

Comments

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Maybe change the websites name to Phuket defamation news.

Posted by FS on December 21, 2013 17:20

Editor Comment:

Thank you for your support, FS. Once we know whether or not we are free for the next five years, normal coverage will resume.

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We, fox2fox.ru, want to express our support to colleagues from Phuketwan, because the criminal case for slander was opened on them.

Your courage and devotion to work always struck and inspired us, your ability accurately to follow the code of journalistic honor and to find such news which any other edition can't find. We often translate your materials into Russian, and with pride we refer to you because you are professionals of the business! There are 60% of news from Phuketwan on our site.

You are very courageous journalists and we hope that justice will prevail. If someone from officials is really involved in a slave trade - he has to incur punishment.

On December 24 we will keep cross fingers for Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian.

Posted by fox2fox.ru - russian news agency in Phuket on December 21, 2013 20:30

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CPJ DEFENDING FOR PW JOURNALISTS ARE EXCELLENT !

We absolutely endorsed constantly reporting of Rohingya victims, one of the most oppressed communities in the world,by PW Editors Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian. The Rohingyas are under hidden genocide by their own government for decades . Due to that reason ,many Rohingyas voyaged for neighboring countries including Thailand. Here they are maltreated and fall at the trap of notorious human traffickers. They have been faced deathly treatment at the concentration camps of traffickers for months. The Phuketwan bravely opened inhuman treatment of Rohingya boat people to the world. Is that a crime ???I would also like to thanks to all media freedom loving people including The Committee to Protect Journalists ,CPJ stance for justice of PW journalists.

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on December 22, 2013 03:41

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Rather inspiring comment. I mean from fox2fox.ru. If nothing else I would hope that readers better recognize how fortunate we are to have Phuketwan (warts and all :) Let's hope it is not appreciated too late.

Brilliant FS your comment added much to discussion and intellectual thought. The world is a better place.

Posted by Martin on December 22, 2013 04:01

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Wishing you a Happy Christmas with good news on Xmas Eve. You deserve it.

Posted by Anonymous on December 22, 2013 13:55


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