On 15 December, the Criminal Court dismissed charges of defamation and violation of the Computer Crime Act against Witoon Lianchamroon, an environmental rights advocate and Director of BioThai. The charges had been filed by the Weed Science Society of Thailand.
“The dismissal of the case is good news for Witoon who should not have been taken to court in the first place.”, stated in a letter from BioThai, the Enlaw Foundation and Protection International . The case stemmed from Witoon’s advocacy to ban paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate, three hazardous pesticides, especially a comment he made online in 2019.
According to Matichon, Ratsada Manooratsada, Vitoon’s attorney, said the Court ruled that Witoon’s opinion was an academic opinion about issues that were not settled. Thus, the validity of the information could not be decided upon.
After leaving the Court, Witoon expressed his gratitude to lawyers from EnLaw, who argued that the interests of the public would be harmed by prosecutions over expressing an opinion. BioThai and its network organizations will keep on performing their duties of giving public warnings over the dangers from pesticides.
Witoon has been working for a change in the agricultural and food system to ensure justice for ordinary people. Although they work with the smallest links in the chain of the capitalist system, small-scale producers should attain security in terms of their economy, safety and health, and enjoy a fair income. He advocates a sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural system.
BioThai, the Enlaw Foundation and Protection International also suggested that the Thai authorities protect human rights defenders and those at risk by ensuring that all people enjoy the rights and freedoms provided by the constitution to participate in the preservation of the environment, health, and community as well as the public interest. There should be an end to judicial harassment by the state and business enterprises.