The criminal defamation and Computer Crime Act related offence filed against Ms. Naritsarawan, after coming out to demand justice for her uncle, Pvt. Wichian Puaksom who died of torture committed by military.
Around 11.30 am of 26 July 2016, police from the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Center (SBPPOC) jointly with officials from the Makkasan Police Station, eight of them in plainclothes, have carried out the arrest of Ms. Naritsarawan Kaewnopparat at her office per the arrest warrant issued by the Provincial Court of Narathiwat. An employee of the Bureau of Children and Youth, Department of Children and Youth, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, she was accused of committing criminal defamation and libel, bringing into a computer system forged computer data, partially or entirely, knowing full well that it is false information.
The case was reported by Capt Bhuri Perksophon to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) since November 2015. It was alleged that Ms. Naritsarawan via her facebook posts and image sharing has defamed Capt Bhuri, the accuser since 5 October 2015 until now (the day the report was filed). The crime took place in Saiburi District, Pattani covering the area of Muang District, Narathiwat causing the impairment of the reputation. The case was later reported to the inquiry official of the Muang Narathiwat Police Station which has jurisdiction over the case, on 18 December 2015. The alleged posts are concerned with information relating to the torture against Pvt. Wichian Puaksom, uncle of Ms. Naritsarawan.
Prior to the arrest, Ms. Naritsarawan had received no summons, even though the police claimed it has been sent to her address twice. The Muang Narathiwat Police Station had applied for arrest warrant from the Provincial Court of Narathiwat since 16 February 2016, the arrest was eventually made on 26 July 2016.
Procedurally, during the arrest, the officials have identified themselves and produced the arrest warrant and then brought Ms. Naritsarawan Kaewnopparat to process the arrest memo at the Makkasan Police Station with assistance from attorneys of the Thai Lawyers for Human rights (TLHR) while being held in custody at the Makkasan Police Station. She was then transferred to the Muang Narathiwat Police Station.
Ms. Naritsarawan was accompanied by staff from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and two arresting police officials leading from Don Moung Airport at 20.05. One hour later after arriving at Hat Yai Airport, they were met with inquiry officials from the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Center (SBPPOC) and driven from there to the Muang Narathiwat Police Station arriving there at 01.00 am of 27 July 2016.
She was then handed over to the inquiry official (Pol Lt Col Somphan Chapinjai) and was questioned with the presence of three attorneys from CrCF. Acknowledging the charges, the alleged offender pleaded not guilty and proposed to furnish the inquiry official more information and evidence later. She was bailed out placing her position as government employee as bail bond with her office issuing a letter to certify her position. The bail was granted and processed as requested by the alleged offender.
Since 2011, CrCF has been providing legal assistance to the family of Pvt. Wichian Puaksom representing them during the post mortem inquest hearing and in the civil case filed to demand damages from the government agencies in charge of the military officials involved with the torture. The Court has awarded the family the compensation, and it was paid out to her. As to criminal legal action, the case has been transferred from the police to the investigation of the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). Later, PACC ruled there was a prima farcie case against the military officials involved with the deadly torture against Pvt. Wichian and the criminal investigation report has been handed over to the Narathiwat public prosecutor already. With further investigation, the number of military officials implicated in the case has been added up from nine to ten. The case is pending on the joint investigation of the Narathiwat public prosecutor and PACC. Even though more than five years have passed, the family still pins their hope on this process.
CrCF deems that even though the police have carried out their duties as required by law and heeded to all the proper procedures, but has shown no due respect to safety and reputation of Ms. Naritsarawan. As an employee of the Bureau of Children and Youth, Department of Children and Youth, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ms. Naritsarawan has a secure address and workplace and there should have been no problem sending the summons to her to get her to acknowledge the charges. The case has also been filed under personal capacity. Therefore, it is important that the agencies involved execute their duties prudently and with respect of the rights of the people. They should act in a manner that ensures justice is served for both the relatives of torture victim and the govenrment officials as well.
“Criminal defamation and the Computer Crime Act must not become a tool to exploit by a person alleged to have committed an act of torture. As a relative of a torture victim, Ms. Naritsarawan has every right to seek justice and to properly exercise her right to freedom of expression. The use of discretion by law enforcement officials must be made to ensure fairness and to prevent the exploitation of law and justice process as a tool to stifle people” said Mr. Surapong Kongchantuk, Chairperson of CrCF.
Contact information of the alleged defendant’s attorneys
– Mr. Sanya Eadchongdee, 087-5894884
– Mr. Preeda Nakpew, 089-6222474
– Ms. Nutthasiri Bergman, 085-1208077