Thailand Rohingya

Rohingya refugees sit in a boat as they are intercepted by Thai authorities off Phuket last year. Pic: AP.

BANGKOK (AP) — A leading international rights group is calling on Thailand to investigate its navy’s alleged role in trafficking of desperate migrants from Burma instead of charging journalists for reporting on the subject.

Thailand’s navy filed criminal defamation charges late last year against the English-language Phuketwan website for publishing stories alleging military involvement in the trafficking of Burma’s ethnic Rohingya boatpeople.

Two journalists from the media outlet are due to report to public prosecutors March 10, when they may be formally charged for publishing false information defaming the navy.

Human Rights Watch on Friday called on the navy to cease efforts to silence journalists.

Phuketwan has for several years taken a leading role reporting the plight of the minority Muslim Rohingya, who are fleeing persecution, abuse and poverty in Burma.