Human rights activist still waiting for support from Thai seafood players
August 30, 2013, 7:56 am
The human rights activist investigating the treatment of migrant workers at a number of factories in Thailand says he will call on numerous seafood companies to give evidence, but he is still waiting for their support.
Andy Hall, who investigated the treatment of migrant workers on behalf of Finnwatch last year, is being sued for defamation by Thai fruit processor Natural Fruit.
Hall interviewed numerous workers at a Natural Fruit plant, some of whom were unregistered migrants and reported low wages, child labor, excessive overtime, confiscation of documents and poor working conditions.
Natural Fruit disputed the claims, saying they are completely false and have brought action against Hall for having the “audacity to… disseminate the results of his research”.
Hall has said that he will call not only on Sea Value-owned Unicord and Thai Union Frozen Products but also Charoen Pokphand Foods, Narong Seafood and Phatthana Seafood, and possibly other seafood companies, to give evidence in his defamation case.
If the case goes to court, Hall will need to prove the “genuine nature” of his character and that his research did not have any negative intent against the companies. For this he will call upon the seafood companies he has worked with in the past, but he has not yet heard back.
“I am not aware of any support provided by seafood companies in my case and TFFA [Thai Frozen Foods Association] in particular has never made any attempt to contact me, work with me or support those migrant projects I am associated with,” he said.
Hall has the full support of Finnwatch and numerous other human rights organisations around the world.
The first hearings have taken place without Hall, as although he and Finnwatch were informed of the intended action, no official court summons has yet been issued to him.
Once Hall has been served with the appropriate summons, in compliance with rule of law and court regulations, he says he will of course attend the hearing, because he is “not in the habit of undertaking illegal activities”.
He will then assign lawyers to present the arguments to the court during its consideration whether to accept the case or not. In Thailand defamation is a criminal as well as a civil offence so Hall could face time in prison if he loses the case.