Public participation is held to be a political principle and practice that forms an important basis of democratic society. The constitutions of Thailand, especially the 1997 Constitution, have guaranteed various rights and freedoms to create an opportunity for the public participation of the people, such as the freedom to express opinions, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to petition, community rights and the right to participate in the management of resources.
However, people who use the rights and freedoms under the constitution to participate in public life may always face threats in many forms, including defamation, accusations, visits to their homes, physical assaults, the use of military or police suppression, assassination and enforced disappearance. Another form which is often seen today are threats using the law and the judicial process.
Threats using the law and the judicial process in the form of lawsuits against individuals who participate on related issues are frequently called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or SLAPPs. Sometimes they may be called “gagging writs” but this report will use the term SLAPPs throughout.
SLAPPs are often introduced by explaining the phenomenon where a private company and the state files a case against people who exercise freedom of expression, expressing opinions, petitioning, rallying or participating in other ways which affect or obstruct the activities of private companies or implementation of development policies of the government, or investigate the use of state power or participate in various public policy issues. These lawsuits create obstacles, diminished resources, create an atmosphere of fear and restrain the people from exercising their rights under the constitution in petitioning the government and speaking on public issues.
The Human Rights Lawyers Association, which is working to create legal standards that conform to judicial principles, human rights principles and social justice, believes that the problem of SLAPPs, which is the use of the law and the judicial process as it all to threaten people who exercise their rights and freedoms to participate in public matters, is an issue that should be pushed forward for an urgent solution. It has therefore conducted a study and produced this report in the hope that it will lead to a discussion that will systematically solve the problem.
Table of contents
Chapter 1 Definitions and general concepts concerning SLAPPs
Chapter 2 The SLAPPs situation in Thailand
Chapter 3 Principles and approaches and dealing with SLAPPs and related human rights law
Chapter 4 Legal Mechanisms for the Prevention of SLAPPs in Thailand
Chapter 5 Summary and recommendations