PHUKET: The following letter has been sent by Liberty Victoria to Thailand’s Ambassador in Australia regarding the criminal defamation action being pursued by the Royal Thai Navy against Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian:
The Royal Thai Embassy,
111 Empire Circuit,
Liberty Victoria is one of Australia’s leading human rights and civil liberties organisations. It is concerned with the protection and promotion of civil liberties throughout Australia.
As such, Liberty is actively involved in the development and revision of Australia’s laws and systems of government. Further information on our activities may be found at www.libertyvictoria.org.au.
We write to raise the case of Australian journalist Alan Morison, who is under a threat of jail for defending media freedom in Thailand. We are sure that the Thai Embassy must know of this case and the matters it raises in relations between our two countries.
Mr Morison has said, and we agree, ”This is a clear issue of freedom of media and the military exceeding its role in using an onerous law unjustly.”
Mr Morison edits and publishes Phuketwan, a small but popular news website on the island of Phuket.
A defamation case was launched by your country’s navy against Mr Morison and his colleague, Chutima Sidasathian, on Christmas Eve.
They face up to five years’ jail and fines if convicted under the Computer Crimes Act. If convicted on criminal defamation charges, they could be jailed for up to two years.
You may be aware that the navy’s action has done your nation’s standing no good, bringing criticism from the United Nations, human rights groups, non-government organisations, and media outlets and unions in Thailand and other countries.
A petition in the journalists’ defence is circulating and attracting many signatories. The global writers’ group PEN is protesting strongly against the charges. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is monitoring the case.
The charges relate to a story published in July 2013 that quoted a Reuters news agency investigation alleging that some members of the Thai military were involved in networks smuggling Muslim Rohingya boat people from Myanmar, described by the UN as among the world’s most persecuted people. Reuters has not been charged.
We would be grateful if you conveyed to your government the strong feeling in Australia that this is an unfair case and the charges should be dropped. We will be making this letter public.
Jane Dixon SC
Full Royal Thai Navy Cartoon:
Navy Uses Computer Crimes Act to Sue:
Phuket Reporters Prepared for Prison: