(New York) – The Thai government should publicly oppose in court the criminal defamation charges against 14 Burmese migrant workers for filing a complaint against their employer with Thailand’s human rights commission, Human Rights Watch said. The trial is to begin on February 7, 2018, in Don Muang Magistrates Court in Bangkok. If convicted, the workers face up to a year in prison.
“The criminal defamation case against 14 migrant workers for reporting abusive labor conditions threatens all rights enforcement bodies in Thailand,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The government should publicly oppose the employer’s charges and protect the ability of government agencies to act on complaints of wrongdoing.”
Public prosecutors and representatives of the Ministry of Labor should both play an important role in raising concerns with the court about protecting persons from retaliation for filing complaints to government agencies.
In July 2016, the 14 workers submitted their complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, accusing Thammakaset Co. Ltd. – a chicken farm in Lopburi province – of subjecting them to grueling work conditions. They said the company required them to work up to 20 hours a day without a day off over 40 or more days, forced them to work overtime, paid them below the minimum wage, restricted their freedom of movement, and confiscated their identity documents.