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Phuket Pair Face Jail as Reuters Wins Regional Human Rights Award

Friday, June 20, 2014
PHUKET: A Pulitzer-winning series by Reuters news agency journalists on the Rohingya boatpeople has won a second major international award as Thailand's military proceeds with a criminal defamation suit against two Phuket-based journalists.

The Royal Thai Navy is suing the parent company of island news outlet Phuketwan and journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian over a 41-word paragraph, republished word for word from the Reuters series.

Police on Phuket said earlier this week that although Reuters has not been charged, officers were reinvestigating a similar case against the news agency and two of its prize-winning journalists.

Last week Reuters, awarded a prestigious Pulitzer earlier in the year, took out a 2014 Society of Publishers in Asia Award for Editorial Excellence in Human Rights Reporting for an entry entitled 'The persecution of Myanmar's Rohingya'.

The judges commented: ''While several news organisations did important work on this issue, this package stands out as being the clearest and most comprehensive, giving historical, political and global context.''

Coincidentally, Phuketwan journalists Morison and Khun Chutima were part of a team from the South China Morning Post newspaper that won both the 2010 SOPA Human Rights and Investigative Reporting awards for revealing the ''pushbacks'' of Rohingya boatpeople by the Thai military in 2009.

Among other SOPA awards won by Reuters this year was one for Excellence in Reporting Breaking News entitled 'Bangkok uprising redux.'

Today the Australian news agency, AAP, reported a senior Thai foreign ministry official, Songsak Saicheu, director-general of the Americas Department, as saying that the ministry is working closely with the Thai Navy and the Australian embassy in a bid to settle the Phuketwan case out of court.

Mr Songsak told reporters the four-way consultations would include the Navy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian embassy, and Morison.

''So the Navy is ready to consider any possibility that if anything can be settled out of court, if both parties are satisfied with the conversation, with the deal, together it can be possible,'' Mr Songsak said.

The Thai National Human Rights Commission has rescheduled a mediation meeting of the parties for July 7.

Under charges brought under Thailand's criminal defamation laws and the controversial Computer Crimes Act, Khun Chutima faces seven years in jail while Morison, as a co-author and a company director, faces a maximum of 14 years.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Mediation is a good tool here.
Since it got attention at the level of MFAs, it looks promising.
And since Thailand has been downgraded today on trafficking, may be officials will take a mediation as a step to avoid slipping on a freedom of expression.

Posted by Sue on June 20, 2014 20:04


Reuters is just another multi- headed monster corporation that puts profit and prestige above all else, including morals and ethics, so put your money where your mouth is Reuters, and walk the talk, NOT.

Posted by farang888 on June 20, 2014 22:11

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