Thailand in a rare event dropped all defamation cases against the chief of Amnesty International in Thailand, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet. The proposed case was a reaction towards a report published by Cross-Cultural Foundation and Duay Jai Group (Hearty Support Group) in 2016, highlighting abuse by military forces in Muslim-majority south that has seen the conflict for over 13 years now. Cases against three human rights defenders was filed by the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 in May 2016.
The United Nations itself asked Thai government controlled by its military to drop such charges that portray true image across the region. The UN Human Rights Office’s acting regional representative, Laurent Meillan said, “Today’s developments are very positive, and we encourage the Government of Thailand to take additional steps to strengthen measures to protect activists carrying out human rights reporting and monitoring.”
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict said, “We commend the military authorities for their decision to drop the case against these brave activists. We hope the authorities will follow this step in the right direction by immediately and unconditionally dropping complaints and charges against other peaceful human rights activists.”
Nevertheless, the move has been highly appreciated by all related parties and serve as an example for Thailand to move towards freedom of expression and universal human rights.