Court dismisses charges against anti-mine activists

A criminal court has dismissed defamation and computer crime charges against anti-mine activists.

On 29 November 2016, the Southern Criminal Court of Bangkok read the verdict on a lawsuit filed by Akara Resources against Somlak Hutanuwatr and Smit (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), according to iLaw.  

The mining company, which operated mines in the northern provinces of Phichit and Phetchabun, accused the two environmental activists of offences under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act (the law against the importation of illegal computer content) and Articles 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code (laws on criminal defamation).

The two were accused of such offences for reporting in April 2016 on Facebook that the company’s mining operations might have caused damages to the local environment and the health of local communities.  

The court, however, ruled in favour of the two activists, reasoning that the information the two shared on Facebook was based on findings of a committee that they were part of that was set up to assess the impacts of the mine.

The court added that although the findings — based on the collection of blood and urine samples of 1,000 people living close to the mines — point out that the locals have been contaminated by excessive levels of heavy metals, they do not conclude that the contamination is caused by the mines.

Akara Resources have filed three lawsuits in total against anti-mine activists. Two, including this one, have been dismissed by Phichit Provincial Court and the criminal court.

As for the third lawsuit, the company accused anti-mine activists of defamation for posting on Facebook that its mining activities are ‘dangerous’. The trial on the case will be held at Phichit Provincial Court next year.