What is Judicial Harassment?

Judicial harassment is a tactic used by powerful figures to intimidate, harass, and punish their critics through lengthy legal battles and the threat of prison sentences.

What is Judicial Harassment?
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Judicial harassment

Judicial harassment is a tactic used by powerful figures to intimidate, harass, and punish their critics through lengthy legal battles and the threat of prison sentences. This is exemplified in Thailand, where companies and government officials often file criminal defamation charges against those who publicly criticize them. The United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights has called attention to this issue in Thailand.

One example of judicial harassment is the case of a poultry company that has been found guilty of labor abuses. Despite this, they have filed 39 lawsuits, mostly criminal defamation cases, against 23 individuals including migrant workers, human rights defenders, and journalists since 2016. The company has lost all but one of these cases, which was later overturned on appeal.

Judicial harassment is not unique to Thailand, but the country stands out for its aggressive use of criminal defamation laws. This misuse of the courts has led to calls for reform, but little has changed. Judicial harassment remains a serious issue that undermines freedom of speech and the ability to hold powerful figures accountable for their actions.

Judicial harassment: Legal action to intimidate critics. Defamation: Damaging reputation through false statements. Libel: Written false statement harming reputation. Lawsuit: Legal action brought in court. Labor abuse: Mistreatment or exploitation of workers. Migrant worker: Person moving to find work. Human rights defender: Person promoting and protecting human rights. Journalist: Person gathering, writing, and reporting news. Appeal: Higher court reviewing lower court decision. Freedom of speech: Right to express opinions freely. Accountability: Responsibility for actions and decisions. Reform: Improvement of what is wrong. Consequence: Result or effect of action. Society: Community with shared customs and laws. Intimidation: Making someone feel afraid or threatened.

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Activists navigate defamation minefield
Sutharee Wannasiri knew the poultry company had violated labour laws. She went on Twitter in 2017 to share a video containing an interview with an employee who said he had to work day and night with no day off.
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