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Chutima Sidasathian (right) and a lawyer deliver the letter on Monday

Phuket Reporters to Ask Thailand's PM to End Human Trafficking Related Court Action

Sunday, May 10, 2015
BANGKOK: Two journalists from Phuket, accused by the Royal Thai Navy of criminal defamation and a count under the Computer Crimes Act, will deliver a letter tomorrow to Government House asking the Prime Minister to end all court action in the unprecedented case.

Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian have covered the exodus of the Rohingya from Burma (Myanmar) since 2008 and continue to report on the issue, despite the laying of the charges in December, 2013.

The letter to the Prime Minister reads as follows:

Dear Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,

Subject: Request to Drop Criminal Charges

We write about the case involving the Phuketwan news outlet, which has often reported about the Rohingya boatpeople and in 2013 directly quoted from a special report by Reuters news agency that suggested Thai authorities gained benefits from trafficking Rohingya.

Phuketwan journalists are obliged to report matters of public interest. The paragraph in dispute has since been poorly translated from English into the Thai language, giving the wrong meaning.

The mistranslation has resulted in court action against Big Island Media [the Phuketwan operating company] Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, using the Computer Crimes Act and criminal defamation.

It is our understanding that Section 14.1 of the Computer Crimes Act was not created to abuse the rights of journalists to report in the public interest.

In the meantime, the US State Department in its Trafficking in Persons report 2014 has suggested that Thailand drop all charges against rights researchers and journalists and instead check whether individuals in authority are connected with human trafficking or other abuses.

As reporters we have been doing our duty to raise issues of concern and public interest regarding corruption and human trafficking for the government to investigate.

Phuketwan articles have always been published without bias and without any intention to damage either the reputation of the Royal Thai Navy or the reputation of Thailand.

As Phuketwan journalists we deeply regret what has transpired since the charges were laid and we have already expressed that deep regret to the Royal Thai Navy.

We hope the Thai government and other authorities understand that journalists must perform their duty as part of the democratic process.

We urge you as Prime Minister to please ask the Attorney General to have these criminal charges dropped because they challenge the essential freedoms and rights of the media.

We suggest the Government instead seeks solutions to the problem of human trafficking in Thailand.

(signed) Alan Morison, Chutima Sidasathian.

A similar letter will also be delivered on Monday addressed to the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, Admiral Kraison Chansowanit.

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Dear Ed and Khun Chutima

I am sure that many of your loyal readers will be hoping that the letters do the trick!

Posted by Ian Yarwood on May 11, 2015 18:16


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