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Thai Communities call to better protect human rights defenders from judicial harassment

Photo: Luke Duggleby/HaRDstories
Photo: Women human right defenders have been subject to intimidation through the legal tactics for their activism. Protesters previously gathered in May in front of UN headquarter, Bangkok, against new draft that will silence the community groups. Luke Duggleby/HaRDstories

In a joint open letter, 71 organisations and community groups from Thailand and more than ten countries across Asia called on the Thai government to better protect women/human rights defenders from judicial harassment. The letter was published ahead of the “4th United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum Asia Pacific”, held in Bangkok on 20 – 22 September. 

The open letter calls for an intervention to address the failure of the Thai government to implement the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP), the first acclaimed action plan in Asia about business and human rights. The letter also highlights the ongoing judicial harassment of women/human rights defenders who expose serious human rights abuses.

According to the network, more than 450 women/human rights defenders have been subject to intimidation and harassment through the legal tactic of SLAPP lawsuits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) in the past eight years since the military coup in Thailand. This includes the renowned human rights activist Angkhana Neelaphaijit, who advocates against enforced disappearances. 

In October, Thailand’s NAP will be ending its first implementing phase. The Rights and Liberties Protection Department under the Ministry of Justice recently held a public hearing to review the action plan, recommending further adjustments for the upcoming second 5-year-phase from 2023-2027.