#SaveSabWaiVillagers FROM GOING TO JAIL!
THE UNFAIR CRIMINALIZATION OF 14 VILLAGERS UNDER THAILAND'S "FOREST RECLAMATION POLICY"
Under the Forestry Act, the National Park Act and the National Reserved Forests Act, Nittaya and the rest of the Sab Wai villagers were charged and convicted under these 3 Acts. The Forest Reclamation Policy was aiming to enforce these 3 Acts on big businesses destroying the forest and evict them from the forest area.The Forest Reclamation Policy was the operationalization of the NCPO order 64/2014 which gave power to forestry officers to act in accordance with forest conservation laws (the 3 Acts above) and evict big businesses from forest land.
BUT in reality, forestry officers have targeted poor villagers like the people in Sab Wai village; forcing them to sign the papers to evict them from their land!
Nittaya's cases (and the rest of 13 Sab Wai villagers’ cases) have been going on for over 3 years. The cases had gone through the Court of First Instance (2018) and the Court of Appeals (2019).The first two courts had found Nittaya guilty and sentenced her with imprisonment and fine!
The Supreme Court has found her guilty with a suspended jail term of 3 years and she was put on probation, with a 20,000 THB fine. Nittaya will be evicted from her land without any corresponding relocation and compensation at all!
In the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal’s verdicts, Nittaya was guilty for encroaching the land in the Sai Thong National Park area according to the 3 Acts: Forestry Act, National Park Act and National Reserved Forests Act.The NCPO order 64/2014 was meant to direct and give power to the authority to enforce these 3 Acts on big businesses & investors.Along with order 64, there was also NCPO order 66/2014 stating that the policy must not affect the poor villagers living in the area.
However, the Court of Appeal had argued that Nittaya (and the rest of the 13 Sab Wai Villagers) could not prove that she is poor and not a rich investor. Therefore the NCPO order 66/2014 didn't apply to her!
But what exactly is this Memorandum?
In June 2019, Manushya Foundation submitted a complaint to the United Nations to denounce the injustice faced by the Sab Wai villagers.
In August 2019, the UN sent a COMMUNICATION (letter) to the Thai government, asking why the NCPO order 66/2014 wasn't applied to poor villagers in Thailand, and
why Nittaya & Sab Wai villagers weren't considered 'poor'?
In response, in Sept-Oct. 2019, the Ministry of Natural Resources set up a committee to conduct an investigation in order to resolve the issues of people being affected by the Forest Reclamation policy.
In November 2019, the Ministry issued a memorandum, stating that Nittaya (and the rest of the 13 Sab Wai villagers) fits the criteria of being impoverished, low-income and non-capitalist person.
Nittaya was still found guilty of encroaching forest land, by committing offenses under all three acts (Forestry Act, National Park Act, and National Reserved Forests Act) as determined by the first two courts.