2nd July 2018: Thailand Appeals Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Dismisses Andy Hall’s Counter Prosecutions Against State Officials

Today (2nd July, 2018) Andy Hall, a British migrant worker rights specialist, received confirmation from his legal defence team in Thailand that the Appeals Court for Corruption & Misconduct Cases recently dismissed his counter criminal prosecutions filed in May 2017 against 10 State prosecution and police officials. The Appeals Court upheld a first instance decision of the Central Court for Corruption & Misconduct Cases that dismissed these prosecutions back in September 2017. Hall’s legal defence team is considering this Appeals Court ruling in detail to prepare to appeal the prosecution dismissal to Thailand’s highest Court, the Supreme Court.

The judgement of the Appeals Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases, issued on 9th May 2018 and available in Thai language (see คำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์คดีแอนดี้ศาลอาญาทุจริต), outlines various reasons for dismissing Hall’s counter criminal prosecutions. The Court ruled that none of the 10 officials named in Hall’s prosecutions (including police officers, state prosecutors and senior officials from the Attorney General’s department) had acted unlawfully in launching in July 2013 a criminal defamation prosecution against Hall which the Supreme Court, affirming decisions of both Prakanong Court and the Appeals Court, ruled in November 2016 was an unlawful prosecution. The Court also ruled that none of these officials had sought to unfairly persecute Hall or cause him any damage or loss by means of their prosecution against him .

This recent dismissal follows a May 2018 decision of Prakanong Court in Bangkok that issued its first instance judgement also dismissing a counter criminal prosecution case filed in May 2017 by Hall against Thailand’s Natural Fruit Company Ltd. and two of its senior executives. Hall’s legal defense team is also preparing to appeal this first instance Court ruling to the Appeals Court.

The unlawful criminal defamation prosecution that led to these two sets of dismissed counter criminal prosecutions concerned an interview Hall gave to Aljazeera English in Myanmar in April 2013 that allegedly defamed Natural Fruit Company and which, when broadcast and distributed, allegedly caused the company and its owners damage. This prosecution by Natural Fruit was filed as a criminal complaint at Bangna Police Station, recommended for prosecution by the police before being accepted by Prakanong Prosecutor and Thailand’s Attorney General.

Despite Thailand’s Supreme Court dismissing the related criminal defamation case against Hall, Prakanong Court went on however to find Hall guilty of civil defamation concerning this same Aljazeera interview in April 2018. The Court ordered Hall to pay Natural Fruit Company 10 million Euros in damages as well as legal fees. Following a donation of over 12, 000 Euros from S Group and Freedom Fund to cover related Court fees required to appeal this conviction, as well as additional donations received towards mounting legal fees, Hall’s legal defense team is currently preparing an appeal against this recent civil defamation conviction also.

Hall’s counter criminal prosecution cases filed against state officials and Natural Fruit Company were launched so as to allow detailed judicial consideration of the unlawful nature of the previous criminal defamation prosecution filed by Natural Fruit Company and jointly prosecuted by Thailand’s Attorney General against Hall. The ruling of Thailand’s Supreme Court in favour of Hall in the Aljazeera interview criminal case provided his legal defense team with the legal option to launch counter criminal prosecutions against Natural Fruit company, it’s executives and State prosecution officials in order to try to defend Hall from ongoing judicial harassment he was facing in the country prior to his departure in late 2016.

I continue to pursue counter litigations consisting of two sets of criminal prosecutions today with a heavy heart and not out of anger or with any desire for revenge. It is regretful that things have reached this stage. However, it is necessary to continue to pursue these litigations as I must defend myself against an unlawful prosecution and sustained judicial harassment waged against me that continues unabated,’ said Andy Hall from Kathmandu in Nepal.

I was encouraged to initiate these litigations by migrant workers whom I continue to support in Thailand. After both my criminal and civil convictions, many workers and rights defenders in Thailand and even globally told me they hesitate to voice concerns on exploitation or report fully on abuses due to fear of negative repercussions. Despite the Appeals Court already overturning my only outstanding criminal conviction in May 2018, it’s still imperative that these two sets of counter criminal prosecutions claim space back for victims of rights abuses, exploited workers and human rights defenders to speak out with confidence about unlawful conduct by business and state actors without repercussions,’ said Hall.

I also continue to pursue these counter criminal prosecutions because of the advice and support provided to me by a committed team of human rights lawyers. My legal team and I aim to contribute through these litigations towards reform of the Thai justice system that is being wrongly utilized to harass human rights defenders like myself. Such reform of the Thai justice system through pressure from litigation such as mine can hopefully enhance the rule of law and ensure meaningful accountability for victims of the unlawful and unacceptable abuse of state police investigatory and prosecutorial powers in Thailand,’ Hall added today.

For more information on this recent Appeals Court judgement, Andy Hall’s counter prosecution and other cases concerning the Natural Fruit saga, contact Andy Hall on +977(0)9823486634 and Andyjhall1979@gmail.com OR Nakhon Chomphuchat, head of Andy Hall’s legal team on +66(0)818 473086 and nakhonct@gmail.com

For more detailed information on the Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall saga including information on numerous other criminal and civil cases involved, see updated May 2018 Finnwatch Q&A (NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_May312018) OR the Andy Hall vs. Natural Fruit blog site www.andyjhall.wordpress.com

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20th Jun 18: Unofficial English language translation/key summary of Appeals Court judgement acquitting Andy Hall of criminal charges in Natural Fruit case

NF judgement English Translation (Final) link will take you to an unofficial English language translation in PDF of Thailand’s Appeals Court 31 May 2018 landmark verdict/judgement overturning my September 2016 criminal conviction in the main Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall criminal prosecution (Thai version of original judgement available at Andy Hall Appeal Court Verdict or here). As the judgement is lengthy, for ease of reference, I highlight the key points from the judgement in yellow in this PDF unofficial translation and copy them below in this post also. I am most grateful to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) for providing the funds to enable an unofficial English language translation of this landmark verdict/judgement to be undertaken.

For more information on this verdict and Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall saga cases, also see:

  1. 31st May 2018 Statement by Andy Hall on Appeals Court Acquittal https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/statement-by-andy-hall-31-may-2018-on-appeals-court-verdict/
  1. Finnwatch Press Release 31st May 2018: Thai Appeals Court rules in favour of Andy Hall quashing criminal conviction https://finnwatch.org/en/news/550-thai-appeals-court-rules-in-favour-of-andy-hall-quashing-criminal-conviction
  1. Finnwatch Q&A document Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall cases, last updated on 31st May 2018, available at http://finnwatch.org/images/pdf/NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_May312018.pdf
  1. Andy Hall vs. Natural Fruit blog pagewww.andyjhall.wordpress.com

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KEY POINTS OF APPEALS COURT VERDICT (as translated into English and highlighted in yellow in PDF full version of judgement)

**”What the plaintiff deemed as defamatory imputations were all the facts stating to the effect that there were human trafficking and violations of human rights and labour protection law. The actions related to human trafficking and human rights violation are the infringements of people’s fundamental rights, which were protected by Thailand’s constitution at the time of the offense and the current constitution also recognizes such rights. In addition, the violation of workers’ rights, which is an offense against the labour protection law, could be an action involving human trafficking that the public or a concerned person that witnesses such offense has the right to inform the public of the fact about it.”  Continue reading

Fortify Rights Statement 31 May 2018: Thailand’s Appeal Court Overturns Conviction Against Labor-Rights Activist Andy Hall

(Thai version below)

https://us10.campaign-archive.com/?e=466cfdf184&u=f15b18127e37f74088063b773&id=950d20932d

Thailand’s Appeal Court Overturns Conviction Against Labor-Rights Activist Andy Hall

(Bangkok, May 31, 2018)—Thailand’s Appeal Court today overturned an earlier decision by the Bangkok South Criminal Court on September 20, 2016 to convict Andy Hall, a British labor-rights activist, on criminal defamation charges and alleged violations under the 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act.

In response to today’s verdict, Sutharee Wannasiri, Thailand Human Rights Specialist with Fortify Rights said:

“This is a monumental verdict towards upholding the rights to freedom of expression and the legitimate work of human rights defenders in Thailand. It is encouraging that the Court recognizes the legitimate work of human rights defenders and whistleblowers who report on human rights abuses within the business sector.

Investigating human rights abuses is not and never will be a crime. Today’s court decision sends a positive signal to the international community that Thailand will not tolerate business enterprises intimidating human rights activists through criminal prosecutions.

These criminal prosecutions aim to silence individuals who speak out against human rights abuses, creating a climate of fear among human rights activists and affected communities in Thailand. Thai authorities and business enterprises should immediately and unconditionally cease all criminal proceedings against all human rights defenders and whistleblowers.

The Thai Government should urgently decriminalize defamation. Until then, Thailand will continue to fall short of meeting its obligations under international law.

The complaint against Andy Hall should never have been brought in the first place. Human rights defenders shouldn’t be criminally prosecuted for reporting on concerning corporate practices, including issues around labor rights protection and the treatment of migrant workers.”

Continue reading

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT Thailand: Successful appeal for British activist Andy Hall a victory for justice 31 May 2018

‪AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT Thailand: Successful appeal for British activist Andy Hall a victory for justice 31 May 2018

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/thailand-successful-appeal-british-activist-andy-hall-victory-justice

The Bangkok South Criminal Court has overturned its conviction of Andy Hall, a British human rights defender found guilty of criminal defamation in September 2016 for his work into the abuse of migrant workers’ rights in Thailand.

Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Thailand, said:

“This successful appeal is very welcome, and it underlines how the original conviction against Andy Hall was an abuse of justice that should never have been allowed.

“Unless followed by legislative and policy changes, however, this decision will do little to compensate for a system that allows for the targeting of human rights defenders who dare to stand up against companies involved in abusive practices.

“The Thai government must work to repeal all criminal defamation laws and take measures to protect both the rights of migrant workers and the freedom of expression of those who are defending their rights.”

Charges

Andy Hall was found guilty by the Bangkok South Criminal Court in 2016 for criminal defamation charges brought against him by the Natural Fruit Company Ltd. The company was the subject of a 2013 report that Mr Hall worked on for the civil society group Finnwatch while researching abuses of migrant workers’ rights in Thailand.

Hall was fined 150 000 Baht and received a three-year sentence. His sentence was suspended for two years.

Associated Press 31 May 2018: Thai Appeals Court Dismisses Case Against British Activist

ASIA PACIFIC

Thai Appeals Court Dismisses Case Against British Activist

By The Associated Press

May 31, 2018

BANGKOK — A Thai appeals court on Thursday vindicated a British labor rights activist entangled in a years-long legal confrontation with a fruit-packing company after he publicized alleged human rights violations at its factory.

The legal victory for Andy Hall was welcomed by Amnesty International but is not necessarily the end of protracted court battles that forced him to leave Thailand in 2016.

A criminal defamation and other cases against Hall stemmed from a 2013 report he researched for Finnish consumer organization Finnwatch that alleged labor abuses at Natural Fruit’s pineapple canning operation. It employed migrant workers from Myanmar who said the company abused them and broke labor regulations.

Sunya Joongdee, a lawyer for Hall, said Thursday’s court ruling dismissed the criminal defamation case, which also resulted in the collapse of a case under Thailand’s computer crimes law. It outlaws publishing what is deemed false information online.

He said the court accepted that Hall’s interviews with migrant workers revealed allegations of rights violations that should be made public. Hall was found guilty of criminal defamation in 2016, fined and given a suspended prison sentence.

Natural Fruit, owned by businessman Wirat Piyapornpaiboon, can appeal to the Supreme Court. Other cases brought by both sides as the legal battle escalated are still before the courts.

On Twitter, Hall said he had previously lost hope of justice but now a “flame was reignited in my heart.”

“There is still the possibility that today’s verdict could lead in some way to peace and reconciliation,” he said.

Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner, Katherine Gerson, said the ruling should be followed with repeal of the criminal defamation law to prevent companies using the courts to harass activists who campaign against abusive corporate practices.

“This successful appeal is very welcome, and it underlines how the original conviction against Andy Hall was an abuse of justice that should never have been allowed,” she said in a statement.

Finnwatch also welcomed the ruling. Its executive director, Sonja Vartiala, said the appeal court’s decision was a “much needed acknowledgement” that Hall’s work researching allegations of human rights abuses against migrant workers was legitimate and in the public interest.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/05/31/world/asia/ap-as-thailand-labor-activist.amp.html

Statement by Andy Hall 31 May 2018 on Appeals Court Verdict

Statement by Andy Hall (31 May 2018 – Kathmandu)

‘’I welcome Thailand’s Appeals Court’s decision today overturning the September 2016 ruling of Bangkok South Criminal Court convicting me of criminal defamation and computer crimes. I take the decision as a positive sign that my and Finnwatch’s research and report on alleged rights violations against migrant workers in Thailand was not an unlawful activity. Further, the Court ruled most progressively that this activity was in the public interest and to be promoted in the Thai society.’’

‘’I have always remained committed to helping Thai society towards promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers. My time away from Thailand has also provided me ample opportunity to reflect on my previous actions. I take this opportunity today to reaffirm my sincere intention to work constructively and positively with all parties concerned and my legal defense team to find means to bring about genuine reconciliation on all of my legal cases and disputes that are ongoing in Thailand. I believe firmly that reconciliation would benefit all those involved in and adversely impacted by these disputes.’’

‘’Lastly, I look forward hopefully one day in the not too distant future to working once again with all sides in Thailand, which I previously considered for more than a decade as my second home, to promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers in the country.’’