Thailand 10th Dec: 110 Global Signatories Condemn Conviction of Human Rights Defender Andy Hall and Call Upon Thailand to Protect Human Rights Defenders

joint-sign-on-letter-for-andy-hall-final_sent

 

Thailand: 110 Global Signatories Condemn Conviction of Human Rights Defender Andy Hall and Call Upon Thailand to Protect Human Rights Defenders

http://www.lrwc.org/thailand-110-ngos-condemn-conviction-of-human-rights-defender-andy-hall-and-call-upon-thailand-to-protect-human-rigts-defenders-joint-letter/

Following the conviction of Andy Hall, a coalition of 110 signatories, including 60 civil society organizations, 28 unions and worker organizations, 13 companies and 9 members of the European Parliament, endorsed an open letter calling on Thailand to protect human rights defenders and migrant workers by: repealing criminal defamation provisions of the Penal Code amending the Computer Crime Act to bring it into compliance with international law freedom of expression guarantees; implementing the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; and, ratifying and implementing the ILO Core Labour Conventions, particularly No. 87 and No. 98.

10 December 2016 General Prayut Chan-o-cha Prime Minister of Thailand Government House, 1, Phitsanulok Road, Dusit, 10300, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2282 5131 Email: prforeign@gmail.com

Re: Andy Hall’s Conviction of Criminal Defamation and Computer Crimes Violations

Dear Prime Minister Prayut:

On this International Human Rights Day, we, the undersigned, write to you concerning the conviction of Andy Hall for criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crime Act. Hall’s conviction was in relation to research he undertook by interviewing migrant workers and sending raw interview data to Finnwatch, which then analyzed the information and published it in the Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price. Finnwatch wrote and published the report online in January 2013 in Helsinki, Finland. We are writing to you as an international coalition of civil society groups (human rights, labor, development and environmental organizations), national civil society groups, members of parliament, and corporations who seek to ensure that the rights of migrant workers and human rights defenders in Thailand are respected and protected in line with international law and standards. While we acknowledge the decision of the Bangkok South Criminal Court in this case, we remain deeply troubled about the potential of this judgment to seriously hinder the work of human rights advocates by preventing effective and confidential research and monitoring of supply chains, thereby putting migrant and other vulnerable workers at higher risk of debt bondage, forced labor and other abuse. Without basic rights like free association and collective bargaining, migrant workers in Thailand lack the means to effectively protect themselves from abuse and exploitation. This judgment could put them at even greater risk. In June 2016, the U.S. government highlighted Thailand’s anti-trafficking efforts by upgrading it to Tier 2 Watch List in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The U.S. government noted, however, that the prosecution of Andy Hall “impeded a climate conducive to preventing trafficking, discovering and reporting trafficking crimes, identifying victims, and apprehending additional traffickers.” It is extremely worrying that a Thai court has acted to criminalize the actions of Hall in contributing to professional research on alleged grave human and labour rights abuses committed by a Thai corporation. This decision will undoubtedly create a chilling effect on independent supply chain research, which benefits migrant workers and their families, the environment, the Thai government and people, and the international companies that source their products from Thailand. We have been consulting closely in the aftermath of this decision and conclude that international brands committed to ethical sourcing are now facing a serious dilemma prompted by the conviction of Andy Hall. An increasing number of international corporations see such research as contributing important value to their decisions around sourcing and production of products. Many of these corporations have made a commitment to their customers to source and produce ethically. Increasing transparency helps international corporations to identify human rights risks and support Thai companies in efforts to improve. Any nation that hinders or obstructs supply chain research may be putting business and investment from those companies at risk. It is important to note that during Hall’s trial, some of Thailand’s leading seafood companies and associations, as well as a leading European retailer, attested to the benefit of Hall’s research. Unfortunately, the Court’s decision sends a signal to international brands and retailers that the current environment in Thailand may not be conducive to ensuring ethical sourcing and may also embolden further prosecution of human rights defenders who report allegedly illegal practices at companies that harm human rights. As a step toward assuring civil society, governments, and the private sector that Thailand is genuinely committed to protecting the rights of migrant workers, Thailand should decriminalize defamation and amend the Computer Crime Act to bring it into line with Thailand’s international human rights obligations. The present use of the Computer Crime Act in tandem with prosecution of human rights defenders for criminal defamation undermines the rights to freedom of expression and information of independent researchers, journalists, and human rights defenders, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. We also urge Thailand to actively and effectively implement the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure that human rights defenders have a safe and enabling environment in which to carry out research, education and advocacy. Furthermore, we encourage the Royal Thai Government to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Labor Conventions, particularly Conventions No. 87 (Freedom of Association) and No. 98 (Collective Bargaining), which would empower migrant workers to protect themselves from employer abuses. The work of Andy Hall and other human rights defenders on supply chains is essential to improving the lives of migrant workers in Thailand and their families in Southeast Asia. It also benefits all consumers of Thai products exported overseas who want to be assured that the products they buy from Thailand are produced in a manner that respects human rights. This work should be commended, not criminalized, by the Thai government.

We urge Thailand to act now to ensure that human rights defenders and migrant workers in Thailand are fully protected by: 1. Repealing the provisions in the Penal Code criminalizing defamation; 2. Amending the Computer Crime Act to bring it into compliance with international human rights law regarding freedom of expression; 3. Actively and effectively implementing the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; and 4. Ratifying and implementing ILO Core Labor Conventions, particularly No. 87 and No. 98.

Sincerely, 1 American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations Cathy Feingold, Director of International Affairs 2 Amnesty International 3 Anti-Slavery International Aidan McQuade, Director 4 Attac Finland Omar El-Begawy, President 5 Australia Asia Worker Links Pier Moro, Secretary 6 Australian Council of Trade Unions Ged Kearney, President 7 Axfood Åsa Domeij, Head of Environmental & Social Affairs 8 Axfoundation Carolina Sachs, Secretary General 9 Building and Woodworkers International Ambet Yuson, General Secretary 10 Burma Campaign UK Mark Farmaner, Director 11 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Bobbie Sta. Maria, Senior Researcher & Representative for Southeast Asia 12 California Institute for Rural Studies Gail Wadsworth, Executive Director 13 Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights – CENTRAL Tola Moeun, Executive Director 14 Child Labor Coalition Reid Maki, Coordinator 15 Civil Rights Defenders Robert Hård, Executive Director 16 Coalition of Immokalee Workers 17 Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA) Jessica Culley General Coordinator 18 Concordia Matthew Swift, Co-Founder & CEO 19 Consumers’ Union of Finland Juha Beurling, Secretary General 20 Coop Sweden Louise König, Sustainability Manager 21 Dalit Solidarity Network Finland Minna Havunen, Chair 22 Electronics Watch Björn Claeson, Director 23 Environmental Justice Foundation Steve Trent, Executive Director 24 Ethical Trading Initiative Peter McAllister, Executive Director 25 Dame Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party 26 Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, European Parliament 27 Heidi Hautala MEP, European Parliament 28 Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, European Parliament 29 Liisa Jaakonsaari MEP, European Parliament 30 Merja Kyllönen MEP, European Parliament 31 Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP, European Parliament 32 Nils Torvalds MEP, European Parliament 33 Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner MEP, European Parliament 34 EuroPoultry Mikael Kristensen, Owner 35 Fair Action Ulrika Urey, Director 36 Fair World Project Kerstin Lindgren, Campaign Director 37 Fairfood International Sander de Jong, Managing Director 38 Farmworker Association of Florida Antonio Tovar 39 Finn Church Aid Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director 40 Finnish Food Workers’ Union SEL Veli-Matti Kuntonen, Union Chairperson 41 Finnish League for Human Rights Kaari Mattila, Secretary General 42 Finnish Metalworkers´ Union Riku Aalto, President 43 Finnwatch Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director 44 FishWise Tobias Aguirre, Executive Director 45 Food Chain Workers Alliance Joann Lo, Co-Director 46 Fortify Rights Amy Smith, Executive Director 47 Freedom Fund Audrey Guichon, Senior Program Officer 48 Frontline Defenders Andrew Anderson, Executive Director 49 Giant Eagle Richard Castle, Director of Seafood 50 Global Witness Ben Leather, Campaigner 51 Green America Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director for Consumer & Corporate Engagement 52 Greenpeace Southeast Asia Yeb Sano, Executive Director 53 Hazards Magazine Rory O’Neill, Editor 54 Human Rights at Sea David Hammond, CEO 55 Human Rights Now Kazuko Ito, Secretary General 56 Human Rights Watch Brad Adams, Asia Director 57 Humanity United Action Ame Sagiv, Investments Manager 58 Hy-Vee Food Stores Inc. Greg Frampton, V.P. Meat and Seafood Operations 59 Industrial Union TEAM Heli Puura, President 60 IndustriALL Global Union Valter Sanches, General Secretary 61 International Federation of Journalists Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary 62 International Labor Rights Forum Judy Gearhart, Executive Director 63 International Solidarity Foundation Miia Nuikka, Executive Director 64 International Trade Union Confederation Sharan Burrow, General Secretary 65 International Transport Workers’ Federation Stephen Cotton, General Secretary 66 International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) Ron Oswald, General Secretary 67 Irish Congress of Trade Unions Patricia King, General Secreatry 68 Kepa Timo Lappalainen, Executive Director 69 KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism Doros Polykarpou, Executive Director 70 Labor Safe Screen and Sustainability Incubator Katrina Nakamura, Founder 71 Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada Gail Davidson, Executive Director 72 Laundry Workers Center 73 Martin&Servera AnnaLena Norrman, Chief Sustainability & Quality Officer 74 Migrant Workers Rights Network Sein Htay, President 75 Multicultural Center Prague Marek Canek, Executive Director 76 National Consumers League Sally Greenberg, Executive Director 77 National Guestworkers Alliance Jacob Horwitz, Lead Organizer 78 Norvida Calle Ramvall, Quality and Environmental Director 79 NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights Sarah Labowitz and Michael Posner, Co-directors 80 Olof Palme International Center Jens Orback, Secretary General 81 Pioneer Valley Workers Center Gabriella della Croce, Development Coordinator & Community Organizer 82 Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants Michele LeVoy, Director 83 Pro Ethical Trade Finland Anna Ylä-Anttila, Acting Executive Director 84 Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) Fekkak Mamdouh, Co-Director 85 S Group Lea Rankinen, Senior Vice President Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility 86 Service Union United PAM Ann Selin, President 87 Slave Free Seas Craig Tuck, Founder and Director 88 Social Accountability International (SAI) Jane Hwang, President & CEO 89 Stop The Traffik Australia Carolyn and Fuzz Kitto, Co-Directors 90 Svensk Cater Lars Carlsson, CEO 91 Swedwatch Alice Blondel, Director 92 Teamsters Joint Council 7 Doug Bloch, Political Director 93 Tehy – The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland Rauno Vesivalo, President 94 Tenaganita Glorene A Das, Executive Director 95 The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary General 96 The Swedish Foundation for Human Rights Jenny Jansson Pearce, Secretary General 97 The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL Päivi Niemi-Laine, President 98 Trade Union Pro Jorma Malinen, President 99 Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK Janne Ronkainen, Executive Director 100 Trades Union Congress Frances O’Grady, General Secretary 101 Transient Workers Count Too John Gee, Chair, Research Sub-Committee 102 Tuko Logistics Pirjo Heiskanen, Quality Assurance Manager 103 UNI Global Union Philip Jennings, General Secretary 104 Unil Julie Haugli Aarnæs, Manager Sustainable Sourcing 105 Union to Union Kristina Henschen, General Secretary 106 Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Mark Zirnsak, Justice & International Mission 107 Verité Shawn MacDonald, CEO 108 Walk Free Joanna Ewart-James, Director 109 Wegmans Food Markets Carl P. Salamone, V.P. Seafood Sustainability 110 Worker Justice Center of New York Lewis Papenfuse, Executive Director

English Translation – Bangkok South Criminal Court’s judgement from 20 Sept 2016 convicting me in #naturalfruit case 

ICJ’s unofficial ENGLISH language translation of Bangkok South Criminal Court’s judgement from 20 Sept 2016 convicting me in #naturalfruit case computer crimes and criminal defamation now available online at https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Unofficial-translation-Andy-Hall-verdict.pdf

Public Statement on Leaving Thailand: 7th November 2016 แถลงการณ์สาธารณะ เรื่อง การเดินทางออกนอกราชอาณาจักรไทย – 7 พฤศจิกายน 2559  

ภาษาไทยอยู่ข้างล่าง Public Statement on Leaving Thailand: 7th November 2016 

It was indeed a welcome development that the Supreme Court of Thailand issued its judgment on 3rd November 2016 at Prakanong Court dismissing, after almost 4 years at a final stage of appeal, a criminal defamation case against me. In this case I was prosecuted as a researcher and migrant activist for criminal defamation by Thailand’s Attorney General and Public Prosecutor, as joint plaintiffs with Natural Fruit Company Ltd. This case related to an interview I gave to Aljazeera in Yangon in 2013 in which I explained about research I conducted on alleged migrant worker rights abuses in Thailand’s food processing industry and my experience of the response by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. in criminally prosecuting me.
As an individual and as an international affairs advisor to the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) and the State Enterprise Worker Relations Confederation (SERC), I have been dedicated to working as a human rights defender and activist for over 11 years. My goal has always been to improve living and working conditions of millions of exploited migrant workers in Thailand and ensure these workers access fully labour rights and other rights they are entitled under Thai law. However, in the end, the situation has not worked out as I planned or hoped. This work has entailed many personal challenges. I have in particular encountered insurmountable challenges with some companies and establishments.

 

For instance, on 20th September 2016 the Bangkok South Criminal Court issued its judgment convicting me for criminal defamation and computer crimes. This conviction resulted from a case prosecuted against me in relation to the publication of a report by Finnwatch on the situation of migrant worker rights violations in Thailand’s pineapple industry. I was a researcher providing raw data for this report and I did not analyse this data, write the report or publish it. However I was sentenced as defendant in this case to 4 years imprisonment and a 200, 000 baht fine. As I was seen to have given beneficial evidence at my trial in a case which also lasted for almost 4 years, I was given a 25% reduction in sentence to 3 years imprisonment and a 150, 000 baht fine. The court suspended my imprisonment sentence for 2 years on the basis that I was an activist working for public benefit. I shall appeal against this conviction once my lawyers receive the judgment.

 

In addition to these personal cases, recently it has been necessary for me to work with MWRN to support a case where migrant workers by necessity had to prosecute a chicken farm owner in Lopburi Province providing poultry to Betagro for export overseas. This case is now resulting in additional criminal prosecutions and threats of even more extensive litigation in Thailand’s Courts of Justice. When taken together, this ongoing, costly and extensive litigation on migrant labour issues creates challenges that critically prevent in many ways enhancement of migrant worker rights in Thailand.

 

Of course, in some situations the Thai government cooperates and assists to promote enhancement of migrant worker rights. I accept that in some circumstances and in certain issues or cases, the situation of migrant workers in Thailand has significantly improved. Credit should be given for this visible improvement. This genuine improvement has only occurred however when civil society and the Thai trade union movement has worked together in collaboration and harmony with more progressive employers, industries and establishments as well as with the Thai Government and overseas buyers.

 

Importantly on a personal level however, currently the situation in defending migrant worker rights for me and others who act as human rights defenders in similar situations has rapidly deteriorated in Thailand with significantly increased risks and aggressiveness evident. As a result, I want to ensure time for existing tense situations of conflict to reduce as well as provide time and space for the many parties to these existing disputes to fully understand the importance of migrant worker rights and the necessity for human rights defenders like myself to have their work increasingly promoted and protected. Only if such a positive situation is developed can people like myself work genuinely and most productively, free from threats and intimidation and without endless prosecutions that prevent our work from proceeding effectively.

 

I have discussed carefully and over a period of time with my colleagues and my legal team a plan to leave Thailand without specifying a return date given the increasingly negative developments highlighted above. I have now finally decided to leave Thailand today as planned, and with confidence that for now, this is the right decision for me and for MWRN. Concerning counter prosecutions against certain individuals and companies in relation to ongoing judicial harassment against me, I have assigned all authority to act on my behalf in these matters and during my absence from Thailand to my Head Lawyer. Any remaining work that I am responsible for has been assigned to MWRN’s team.

 

Andy Hall

07.11.2016

Survanabumi Airport 

——-

แถลงการณ์สาธารณะ เรื่อง การเดินทางออกนอกราชอาณาจักรไทย – 7 พฤศจิกายน 2559  

 

แม้นศาลฎีกาจะได้มีคำพิพากษาดังที่ศาลจังหวัดพระโขนงได้อ่านเมื่อวันที่ 3 พฤศจิกายน 2559 ในคดีที่พนักงานอัยการเป็นโจทก์ฟ้องผม และบริษัท เนเชอรัลฟรุต จำกัด เป็นโจทก์ร่วม โดยผมมีฐานะเป็นนักวิจัยและนักสิทธิมนุษยชนด้านแรงงานข้ามชาติ ซึ่งถูกฟ้องเป็นคดีอาญา ข้อหาหมิ่นประมาท จากการให้สัมภาษณ์กับสำนักข่าวอัลจาซีรา ที่ประเทศเมียนมาร์ เมื่อปี 2556 โดยได้กล่าวถึงงานวิจัยเรื่องการละเมิดสิทธิแรงงานข้ามชาติในอุตสาหกรรมผลิตอาหารสำเร็จรูปในประเทศไทย และกล่าวถึงประสบการณ์จากการถูกบริษัท เนเชอรัลฟรุต จำกัด ดำเนินการคดีอาญา โดยคดีดังกล่าวศาลฎีกามีคำพิพากษายกฟ้องแล้ว ก็ตาม

 

จากการที่ผมได้ทุ่มเททำงานปกป้องสิทธิมนุษยชนมามากกว่า 11 ปี เพื่อมุ่งหวังให้ชีวิตความเป็นอยู่ของแรงงานข้ามชาติในประเทศไทยสามารถมีชีวิตที่ดีขึ้น โดยได้รับสิทธิแรงงานและสิทธิอื่นตามกฎหมายไทยอย่างครบถ้วน แต่ในความเป็นจริงกลับมิได้เป็นเช่นนั้น เพราะในการทำงานเรื่องดังกล่าวนี้ ยังมีอุปสรรคอยู่อีกมาก โดยเฉพาะเมื่อมีปัญหากับผู้ประกอบการ ดังเช่น คำพิพากษาของศาลอาญากรุงเทพใต้ เมื่อวันที่ 20 กันยายน 2559 ที่ผ่านมา ซึ่งมีคำพิพากษาลงโทษผมในความผิดทางอาญาฐานหมิ่นประมาทและพระราชบัญญัติคอมพิวเตอร์ฯ โดยมีมูลเหตุมาจากการที่องค์กรต่างประเทศ คือ Finnwatch ได้ตีพิมพ์รายงานสถานการณ์การละเมิดสิทธิแรงงานในอุตสาหกรรมสับปะรดกระป๋อง โดยผมเป็นนักวิจัยร่วมในรายงานวิจัยฉบับนี้ ซึ่งศาลตัดสินว่า จำเลยกระทำผิดจริง ลงโทษจำคุก 4 ปี ปรับ 200,000 บาท แต่จำเลยให้การเป็นประโยชน์ต่อศาล จึงลดโทษให้ 1 ใน 4 คงเหลือโทษจำคุก 3 ปี และปรับ 150,000 บาท และเนื่องจากจำเลยเป็นนักกิจกรรมที่ทำประโยชน์เพื่อสังคม จึงให้โทษจำคุกรอไว้ และนอกจากคดีนี้แล้ว ยังมีปัญหาแรงงานข้ามชาติที่มีความจำเป็นต้องดำเนินการฟ้องคดีแรงงานกับผู้ประกอบการฟาร์มเลี้ยงไก่ในจังหวัดลพบุรี เป็นอีกกรณีหนึ่งด้วย ซึ่งล้วนแล้วแต่เป็นข้อพิพาทแรงงานที่ส่งผลให้เกิดอุปสรรคในด้านการพัฒนาสิทธิมนุษยชนของแรงงานข้ามชาติ อันทำให้การทำงานของผมยากลำบากยิ่งขึ้น แม้ในขณะนี้ รัฐบาลไทยจะให้ความร่วมมือและช่วยเหลืออยู่บ้างแล้ว ก็ตาม โดยผมเองยอมรับว่า สถานการณ์บางอย่างของแรงงานข้ามชาติ ก็ดีขึ้นบ้างแล้ว เพราะผมกับทีมงานองค์กรพัฒนาเอกชนและสหภาพแรงงาน ได้ทำงานร่วมกันเป็นภาคีกับสถานประกอบการหลายแห่ง รวมทั้ง รัฐบาลและลูกค้าต่างประเทศ ด้วย แต่เนื่องจากในช่วงเวลานี้ สถานการณ์การต่อสู้เรื่องสิทธิแรงงานข้ามชาติสำหรับผมและคนที่ทำงานปกป้องสิทธิเหล่านี้ ต้องเผชิญกับความรุนแรงและความเสี่ยงเพิ่มมากขึ้น ผมจึงคิดว่า เพื่อให้สถานการณ์ลดความตึงเครียดลง และให้เวลาหลายฝ่ายได้ตระหนักและทำความเข้าใจถึงสิทธิมนุษยชนด้านแรงงานข้ามชาติ และความจำเป็นที่นักปกป้องสิทธิมนุษยชนควรได้รับการส่งเสริมและคุ้มครองมากขึ้น เพื่อเปิดโอกาสให้สามารถทำงานอย่างจริงจังได้ โดยปราศจากการถูกข่มขู่คุกคามและการดำเนินคดีเพื่อสกัดกั้นการทำงาน ผมจึงได้หารือกับเพื่อนร่วมงานและทีมทนายความ ในเรื่องที่ผมจะเดินทางออกนอกราชอาณาจักรไทยโดยยังไม่มีกำหนดกลับประเทศไทย และสุดท้ายผมได้ตัดสินใจเดินทางออกนอกประเทศไทยในวันนี้ ตามที่ผมเตรียมการและตั้งใจไว้ ส่วนในเรื่องการดำเนินคดีกับบุคคลต่างๆ ผมได้มอบอำนาจให้หัวหน้าทีมทนายความดำเนินการแทน และมอบหมายงานที่จำเป็นให้กับทีมงานเป็นที่เรียบร้อยแล้ว  

 

อานดี้ ฮอลล์

สนามบินสุวรรณภูมิ

07.11.2016

FINNWATCH PRESS RELEASE – Thailand’s top court dismisses criminal defamation case against Finnwatch researcher Andy Hall

PRESS RELEASE
Thailand’s top court dismisses criminal defamation case against Finnwatch researcher Andy Hall
Thailand’s Supreme Court today rejected the Attorney General and Natural Fruit Co Ltd.’s appeal in a criminal defamation case against Finnwatch researcher Andy Hall. The charges in this case related to an interview Hall gave to Al-Jazeera in Myanmar in April 2013 concerning his earlier criminal prosecution by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. This particular case had already been dismissed twice by courts of both first and second instance (Prakanong/Appeals Court) on the grounds of flawed unlawful interrogation processes during police investigation of the case and given the allegedly defamatory act was committed in Myanmar.
In a statement issued today following the ruling, Hall said: ‘Following dismissal of the case, I have no choice but to now launch counter litigation against Natural Fruit, the Prosecutor, Police and the Attorney General for unlawful prosecution and for perjury. I do so with deep regret and not at all in anger or through any desire for personal retribution. It is necessary to launch these counter prosecutions simply because I must defend myself fully against judicial harassment by Natural Fruit that shows no signs of abating.’
‘The Supreme Court’s ruling is of course a huge relief but it does not vindicate Hall’s earlier conviction and suspended prison sentence in a case also brought by Natural Fruit less than two months ago. However, the campaign of judicial harassment that has been waged against Andy Hall for almost four years now has already sadly been successful. As many have feared, this campaign has also had a negative impact far beyond the case of Andy himself. We have heard from a number of migrant workers and activists how they are now deeply afraid to speak out on abuse workers face from Thai employers after Andy Hall’s recent conviction,’ said Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch.
‘A real stain has been placed on Thailand’s reputation, in particular as an acceptable country to do business in. Companies which source from Thailand need to think really hard whether they can be confident that they can adequately monitor their supply chains when the voices of workers and those who defend them are being chillingly silenced,’ she added.
Less than two months ago on September 20th 2016, the Bangkok South Criminal Court found Andy Hall guilty in the other criminal case on charges of criminal defamation by publication and Computer Crimes brought by Natural Fruit against him. He was subsequently sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, reduced by one year and suspended by two years and ordered to pay a fine of 200, 000 baht reduced to 150,000 baht. Once the fine was paid to the Court by Thai Union Group, the Thai Tuna Industry Association and Finnwatch, Andy Hall was released from temporary detention, his passport returned and restrictions on his freedom of movement removed. The surprise guilty verdict drewstern criticism from around the world including from the UN, the ILO, the European Parliament and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.
Andy Hall and his legal team are currently preparing to appeal the Bangkok South Criminal Court conviction on grounds of both fact and law but have yet to receive a written copy of the verdict to be used as the basis of the appeal. The Supreme Court ruling in this Aljazeera interview case on 3rd November will have no impact on the suspended prison sentence Hall was given on 20th September.
Two civil defamation claims for damages of 400 million baht brought by Natural Fruit Company Ltd against Andy Hall are still pending resolution of the two criminal cases. Natural Fruit filed all four cases against Hall following publication of the Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price in January 2013. Hall coordinated field research and conducted migrant worker interviews for the report which outlined migrant worker interviewee allegations of serious labour rights violations at the company’s pineapple processing plant.
For more details, see the Q&A Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall (last updated in October 2016) available at: http://finnwatch.org/images/QA_October_2016_updated.pdf
Contact:

1. Sonja Vartiala, executive director, Finnwatch +358(0)445687465 and sonja.vartiala(a)finnwatch.org

2. Andy Hall, researcher and activist +66(0)846119209 and andyjhall1979(a)gmail.com

3. Nakhon Chompuchat, Andy Hall’s head lawyer +66(0)818473086 and nakhonct(a)gmail.com
— 

Sonja Vartiala

Toiminnanjohtaja/Executive Director

Finnwatch ry

sonja.vartiala@finnwatch.org

+358-44 5687465

http://www.finnwatch.org

@Finnwatch1

Malminrinne 1B, 2.krs

00180 Helsinki

Media Advisory Monday 31st October 2016: Thailand’s Supreme Court to Rule on Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall Criminal Defamation Case Appeal on November 3rd 2016

Media Advisory – Monday 31st October 2016
Thailand’s Supreme Court to Rule on Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall Criminal Defamation Case Appeal on November 3rd 2016
A ruling by Thailand’s Supreme Court on the legality of the two times dismissal of criminal defamation charges filed by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. and Thailand’s Attorney General against Finnwatch researcher and British migrant worker activist Andy Hall will be read on Thursday Nov. 3rd 9am at Prakanong Court in Bangkok, Thailand. Hall is required to attend the hearing in person.
The criminal case prosecution, dating back to July 2013, relates to an interview Hall gave to Al-Jazeera English in Myanmar in April 2013 concerning his earlier criminal prosecution by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. This case was the first of four criminal and civil cases filed against Hall by the Prachuap Khiri Khan pineapple processing company to reach trial following publication of a Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price in January 2013. Hall coordinated field research and conducted migrant worker interviews for this report which outlined migrant worker allegations of serious labour rights violations at the company’s processing plant.
This particular case has already been dismissed twice by courts of both first and second instance (Prakanong/Appeals Court) on the grounds of flawed unlawful interrogation processes during police investigation of the case and given the allegedly defamatory act was committed in Myanmar.
The hearing has two likely verdict outcomes. Firstly, the Supreme Court could reject the appeal again on legal grounds. If the court did so, the joint plaintiffs could no longer appeal and after almost four years, this case would finally be closed. Secondly, the Supreme Court could accept the appeal and order the Prakanong Court of first instance to rule on the facts of the case as per witness testimony during the original 6 day trial in September 2014. The criminal defamation charges in this case carry a maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 20, 000 Thai Baht.
Less than two months ago on September 20th 2016, the Bangkok South Criminal Court found Andy Hall guilty in the other criminal case on charges of criminal defamation by publication and Computer Crimes brought by Natural Fruit Co Ltd against him. He was subsequently sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, reduced by one year and suspended by two years and ordered to pay a fine of 200, 000 baht reduced to 150,000 baht. Once the fine was paid to the Court by Thai Union Group, the Thai Tuna Industry Association and Finnwatch, Andy Hall was released from temporary detention, his passport returned and restrictions on his freedom of movement removed.
Andy Hall and his legal team are currently preparing to appeal the Bangkok South Criminal Court ruling on grounds of both fact and law but have yet to be provided a written copy of the verdict to be used as the basis of the appeal.
For more details, see the Q&A Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall (last updated 31 October 2016) available at: http://finnwatch.org/images/QA_October_2016_updated.pdf
Contact:

1. Sonja Vartiala, executive director, Finnwatch +358(0)445687465 and sonja.vartiala@finnwatch.org

2. Andy Hall, researcher and activist +66(0)846119209 and andyjhall1979@gmail.com

3. Nakhon Chompuchat, Andy Hall’s head lawyer +66(0)818473086 and nakhonct@gmail.com
— 

Sonja Vartiala

Toiminnanjohtaja/Executive Director

Finnwatch ry

sonja.vartiala@finnwatch.org

+358-44 5687465

http://www.finnwatch.org

@Finnwatch1

Malminrinne 1B, 2.krs

00180 Helsinki

Key International Support Statements: Andy Hall’s Guilty Verdict on 20th Sept 2016

Here is a summary of statements related to Andy Hall’s guilty verdict on 20.9.2016 issued by international organisations.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) http://bangkok.ohchr.org/news/press/AndyHall.aspx
Foreign Trade Association: http://www.fta-intl.org/news/andy-hall%E2%80%99s-verdict-sad-setback-human-rights-thailand
International Labour Organization: http://www.ilo.org/asia/info/public/pr/WCMS_526122/lang–en/index.htm
Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/21/thailand-labor-activist-convicted-reporting-abuses
Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/09/another-human-rights-activist-unjustly-targeted/
International Commission of Jurists: http://www.icj.org/thailand-verdict-in-andy-hall-case-underscores-need-for-defamation-to-be-decriminalized/
Ethical Trade: http://www.ethicaltrade.org/blog/eti-expresses-serious-concerns-over-activist-andy-halls-defamation-verdict-thai-court
FIDH: https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/thailand/thailand-sentencing-of-mr-andy-hall-migrant-labour-rights-researcher

ITF: http://www.itfglobal.org/en/news-events/press-releases/2016/september/press-release-itf-condemns-thai-sentencing-of-british-labour-rights-researcher/