Thais urged to drop charges over posts on British tourist's rape complaint

Friday, 7 September 2018 World

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Thai authorities to drop legal cases against 12 people arrested over Facebook posts they shared about a British tourist’s complaint that she had been raped on a holiday island.

Police arrested the 12 Thai Facebook users this week for violating a cyber-crime law, in connection with their posts about what police have deemed to be an untrue complaint of rape. Police had been investigating an accusation by a 19-year-old British tourist who said she had been raped while on holiday on the island of Koh Tao in June.

Thailand is sensitive about how it is perceived abroad, particularly because of any impact on tourism which is an important driver of the economy.

The British tourist, whose identity has not been revealed, reported to police in June that she was robbed on the island. But upon her return to Britain, she told police there that she had also been raped.

Media have reported that the woman said she was turned away by Thai police when she tried to report the rape. Police deny this and say their investigation determined her complaint of rape was not true.

“The 12 arrested shared information ... which affects Thailand’s image, because according to our investigation the incident alleged by the British tourist never took place,” Napah Senatip, deputy inspector of Koh Tao police, told Reuters.

Thais urged to drop charges over posts on British tourist's rape complaint