IFJ Welcomes Withdrawal of Defamation Case Against Thai Media Activist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the withdrawal of Shin Corp’s defamation suit against media activist Supinya Klangnarong in Thailand, saying that it further highlights the futility of using outdated laws to curb press freedoms.

Shin Corp filed a civil defamation case claiming 400 million baht (over US$10 million) in damages against Supinya and Thai Post editors after they published an interview with Supinya in July 2003 that alleged Shin Corp, formerly owned by the prime minister’s family, stood to benefit financially from prime minister Thaksin’s policies.

Shin Corp’s withdrawal of the civil case follows the Criminal Court's March 15, 2006 verdict acquitting the defendants of criminal charges relating to the same incident.

“This case has been a key test of freedom of expression in Thailand, and this final victory is inspiring for all media workers in the country,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.

“The IFJ has long been campaigning for the removal of criminal defamation laws and more reasonable tests for civil suits, and this case highlights the unreasonableness of the laws as they stand,” Warren said.

“Companies and governments alike must recognise that a free press should not be compromised by outdated criminal defamation laws and unreasonable civil defamation suits with wildly inappropriate claims for damages.”

The Criminal Court’s March 15, decision, which ruled the comments were made without malice and that public entities, including companies and public figures, have a higher burden of criticism, was hailed by free press and human rights advocates around the world as a victory for the media.

“The IFJ has been behind Supinya and the Thai Post from the very beginning and we are extremely pleased with the results of this case,” Warren said.

The IFJ has renewed its calls upon the Thai Government to learn from this case and take greater steps to ensure that civil defamation decisions are based upon tests of reasonableness and appropriateness, and stricter checks are used to ensure cases based on illegitimate grounds are not permitted to proceed.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries