Climate activists file class action lawsuit against prime minister for flood mismanagement

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BANGKOK, Dec 21 – Thai climate change activists from the Stop Global Warming Association on Wednesday led 300 flood victims in suing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and 10 government agencies for their inadequate response and mismanagement in the recent flood crisis.

Environmentalist Srisuwan Janya, who heads the anti-global warming group, was first plaintiff representing 352 flood victims–joint plaintiffs–in filing suit at Thailand’s Administrative Court, demanding that the defendants financially compensate those affected by the flood for the actual cost of damages.

Stop Global Warming also demanded the government to ready a Bt2 billion budget annually for a flood victims’ rehabilitation fund. The fund would be increased by 5 per cent annually or in accord with inflation.

The 11 defendants were the prime minister, the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) chief, the agriculture and cooperatives minister, the interior minister, the director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, the director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, the director-general of the Water Resources Department, the director-general of the Pollution Control Department, the director of the National Disaster Warning Centre, the director-general of the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning and the governor of Bangkok.

The petition was filed with environment section of the Central Administrative Court.

Mr Srisuwan said the group was only the first batch of the flood victims demanding the government to accept responsibility and he believed similar lawsuits would follow.

He said the complaint was filed on grounds of negligence, delayed delivery of services and committing acts damaging to the public.

This was the first ‘class action’ case involving hundreds of people taking legal action against relevant authorities and officials, including the prime minister, over the flood crisis.