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/

Summary of Key Media Coverage: Andy Hall’s Guilty Verdict on 20th Sept 2016

Here is a summary of key international media coverage related to Andy Hall’s guilty verdict on 20.9.2016.
Reuters: http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-thailand-rights-idUKKCN11Q0DT

AP: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/18f8e40bee9a499abb9c235ee61fdf62/thai-court-finds-british-activist-guilty-defamation

The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/thai-court-finds-british-activist-guilty-of-defamation/2016/09/20/0f940086-7ee7-11e6-ad0e-ab0d12c779b1_story.html

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/20/british-activist-in-complete-shock-after-thailand-finds-him-guil/

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/20/british-activist-found-guilty-thailand-report-alleging-labour-abuses (Op Ed): https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/sep/24/rights-activist-andy-hall-loud-persistent-punished-thailand

BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37415590

AFP/Bangkok Post: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/1090505/activist-andy-hall-found-guilty-in-natural-fruit-case

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/world/asia/thailand-andy-hall-natural-fruit-verdict.html?_r=0

Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/british-activist-andy-hall-in-thai-court-in-defamation-lawsuit-1409663475 (Op Ed) http://www.wsj.com/articles/thailands-defamation-squeeze-1474585308