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TJA maintains secrecy in sexual harassment case ‘to protect privacy of all concerned’

The Thai Journalists Association is sticking to its position in refusing to disclose details about the recent scandal concerning sexual harassment allegedly committed by a senior media executive.

TJA president Poramet Lekpetch insisted on Monday that its executive board’s resolution not to disclose details of the case had been taken because the association was concerned about the privacy of all those involved.
Poramet said that the organisation had proceeded with the case in line with its internal procedures, with the allegations of sexual misconduct being investigated in secret and the disclosure of the findings only being undertaken if the parties concerned gave their permission to do so, he said. 
The TJA fact-finding panel had not pinpointed any wrongdoers, but cited “a situation prone to the act [of sexual harassment]”, hence no penalties could be imposed against anyone, he explained. 
The association has written to media organisations asking them to follow its panel’s recommendations following the case, and – citing ongoing media reform – he believed that in the long term these bodies would come up with proper guidelines for dealing with such cases.
“But personally, I think the best way to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace is for the victim to be brave and stand up and protect his or her own rights,” Poramet added.
The TJA’s latest insistence on keeping the details secret follows the demand for disclosure in the case by 19 so-called “field reporters”.
They claimed that the association’s press release on the issue had left the case ambiguous, and wondered if the TJA had covered up the real issue, with doubts over whether it had treated the victim fairly. 
The TJA’s earlier press release, the reporters added, did not firmly address measures to prevent sexual harassment in the future.
The association released its fact-finding results in the case last month, without naming anyone involved or even pinpointing whether the alleged act had actually taken place. 
The TJA said at the time that its press release was based on the findings of its independent fact-finding panel, which was appointed last September to investigate the matter. 
A close relationship and trust in the workplace were addressed as the key factors that had led to “misunderstanding” and a “sexual harassment-prone situation”, the TJA concluded.
A director of an unnamed media organisation was accused in the middle of last year of having sexually harassed a colleague in the workplace. 
The news was then circulated on social media, during which the male executive was strongly criticised, leading to the investigation by the TJA. 
The fact-finding panel talked in secret with 11 persons, including the alleged harassment victim and the accused. 
It learned that they were close and had trust in one another, to the point that the relationship may have led to a misunderstanding and a situation that was prone to sexual harassment. 
This was partly due “to a person having been raised in a way that respected older persons and seniority”, the TJA noted in its press release. 
The two later talked and apologised to one another, the association said. 
The victim of the alleged harassment then quit her job, before the news broke with a third party disseminating “distorted facts” on social media and affecting their reputations, the TJA added.

Published : February 19, 2018

By : Khanittha Theppajorn The Nation