For immediate release on 9 February 2018
ISOC compaint against the Manager Online must be dropped
News report on an alleged act of torture is not a crime
On 9 February 2018, Lt. Gen. Piyawat Nakwanich, the 4th Army Region Commander and Director of Internal Security Operations Region 4 (ISOC 4) has authorized Col Hanphon Petmuang, Commander of the Ranger Taskforce 43 and an attorney to report a case against the editors of Manager Online which has published a report “An exposé, suspect tortured to near death while in custody at a military barrack” on 5 February 2018. The undersigning organizations have the following opinions to make regarding this case;
- The public holds the right to review, criticize and question state agencies and public officials. Such right is legitimate and provided for in the Constitution and in a democratic principle, particularly the exercise of such right by people affected by policies or actions of the authorities.
- Journalism is obliged to provide a space or to reveal truths and issues stemming from the execution of duties by public officials. In this case, a report by local journalists in the Deep South reflects the reality of people who claimed to have been a victim of torture or abuse of power by public officials and bring it to public attention, the act of which is legitimate as a journalist.
- The state is obliged to uphold human rights of all people. Therefore, when it got reported or when a complaint has been made accusing public officials of committing an unlawful act including torturing suspects in security related cases, concerned authorities are duty-bound to investigate the claim, to bring to justice the perpetrators and to prove if such news or complaint holds true or not. If either the news or complaint is found to have prima facie, the authorities shall have the duty to rectify it, if not. It has every right to explain the matter to the media or to the public.
- That the alleged authorities including the Ranger Taskforce 43 or the ISOC Region 4 have reported the case to hold editors of Manager Online criminally accountable for reporting “An exposé, suspect tortured to near death while in custody at a military barrack” is not only considered a deprivation of the right to freedom of expression and the right of the public and media to hold the authorities to account, but also an indication of Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP).
- Retaliation by ISOC Region 4 simply deters potential victims of abuse by the officials making them fear to come out and complain with the public and concerned agencies. This would not just deprive the state a chance to rectify their actions in order to better uphold human rights, but also encourage some public officials to continue abusing their powers. And this would give rise to a widening gap and a mistrust between the public and the authorities which can compromise social security.
Based on the above reasons, the undersigning organizations urge ISOC Region 4 or the Ranger Taskforce 43 to immediately withdraw the case and stop such action.
1.Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
2.Duay Jai Group
3.Patani Human Rights Organization Network
- Network of women anti violence in the Deep South