FINNWATCH 28th August 2014
Q&A: Criminal Trial of Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall
1. What is the trial about?
Migration expert and researcher Andy Hall worked as a research coordinator for Finnwatch in 2012.
He conducted worker interviews in Thailand for a Finnwatch report called Cheap has a high price,
which, among other things, investigated Natural Fruit factory located in Prachuap Khiri Khan in
Southern Thailand. Natural Fruit was randomly investigated as it produced pineapple concentrate
for Finnish supermarkets’ private label products. Finnwatch published the report in January 2013. Based on worker testimonies, the report alleged
serious human rights violations in the factory. Natural Fruit reacted to the critique by pressing
criminal charges against researcher Andy Hall as a private person and not Finnwatch.
Natural Fruit has filed together four charges against Hall. Cases relate to criminal and civil
defamation and the Computer Crime Act. The first court criminal trial starts on 2nd September and
deals with an interview Andy Hall gave to Aljazeera regarding his criminal and civil prosecutions.
According to Natural Fruit, Andy Hall intentionally harmed the reputation of the company by
speaking and/or publishing false information.
2. Who is Natural Fruit?
Natural Fruit is a company that produces pineapple products and is part of Nat Group. Other
companies belonging to the group are Prafic and Prafic 2005 which produce dried fruits and aloe
vera products. In 2012, Natural Fruit supplied juice concentrate for Finnish retailers SOK, Kesko
and Tuko Logistics private label juices (produced by Finnish VIP-Juicemaker Oy).
The owner of Natural Fruit, Wirat Piyapornpaiboon, is the elder brother of the former labour
minister and general secretary of the Democratic Party Chalermchai Sri-On. Natural Fruit is a
powerful company in Thailand’s pineapple industry as its owner is the President of the Thai
Pineapple Industry Association TPIA. TPIA represents over 60 pineapple companies in Thailand.
3. What will happen in the trial starting on 2nd September 2014?
The trial in Prakanong Court will be dealing with the interview Andy Hall gave for Aljazeera in
Myanmar in 2013. The trial will begin on 2nd September and end on 10th September. During the
first three days of the trial, Natural Fruit and the public prosecutor will go through their evidence
and witnesses. The defence has the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. According to the
prior notification given to the court, Natural Fruit will bring factory workers as witnesses as well as
policeman, labour authorities and documents from an auditing company SGS.
From 5th September, the defence Andy Hall will bring in their evidence and witnesses. The defence
will hear from former Natural Fruit workers who fled from the factory, researchers, company
representatives, Aljazeera journalist Wayne Hay and Finnwatch’s Executive Director Sonja Vartiala.
The prosecutor has also an opportunity for cross-examination of defence witnesses.
The embassy of Finland in Bangkok and the embassy of UK in Thailand will attend the trial. The International labour association IUF
has mandated The International Centre for Trade Union Rights ICTUR to observe the trial.
4. Are the Finnwatch findings about Natural Fruit false?
The findings of the report Cheap has a high price, published in 2013, are based on interviews of
workers in the Natural Fruit factory. Following Finnwatch’s Code of Conduct for research, Natural
Fruit was contacted several times during the investigation by email, telephone and fax, but the
company refused to reply and to discuss about the alleged working conditions in the factory.
Natural Fruit has never asked to correct Finnwatch’s report and hasn’t provided any information
related to the Finnwatch’s findings.
Finnwatch is not the only organisation that has investigated the working conditions in Natural Fruit.
An award winning reporter Hanna Nikkanen independently interviewed Natural Fruit’s former
factory workers and Finnish Apu magazine published Nikkanen’s article on the same day with the
Finnwatch report. Aljazeera has interviewed a worker who escaped from Natural Fruit. In 2013,
Finnwatch also published a short video documentary where a worker of Natural Fruit was
interviewed on their poor experiences of working in the factory.
In January 2013, Thai labour authorities conducted an inspection in the Natural Fruit factory. The
inspection report found several deficiencies in the factory: different kinds of illegal deductions from
the salaries, illegally long over time hours, deficiencies in sanitation rooms and restrictions of toilet
visits. The report however did not inspect the salaries paid in 2012 and it is unclear whether Natural
Fruit was warned about the inspection prior to the visit. Finnwatch and The Finnish League for
Human Rights have criticised the inspection report for its serious deficiencies and asked for
additional information. Thai authorities haven’t replied to these enquiries.
In 2014, Finnwatch published a follow-up report on the working conditions in Natural Fruit.
According to the report, there are still labour rights issues in the factory. Due to the ongoing court
proceedings, Andy hall did not take part in this particular research project. Natural Fruit has
commented on the follow up report briefly by denying all illegalities.
5. Are the accusations of Natural Fruit true?
Natural Fruit is accusing Andy Hall for intentionally harming Natural Fruit and for causing financial
loss. The accusations are without basis.
Hall has no personal interest or intention to harm Natural Fruit. The researcher had never met the
owners or management of Natural Fruit and had never been in any contact or conflict with the
factory before conducting the field study for Finnwatch. Finnwatch got the name and address of
Natural Fruit from Finnish retailer SOK when initiating the investigation on the responsibility of
randomly chosen private label products sold in Finland.
Finnwatch’s report is not the reason for financial loss of Natural Fruit. The first recommendation in
the Cheap has a high price report urges companies to continue trading with Natural Fruit. Finnish
trade group SOK visited Thailand in 2013 and met with Natural Fruit. During the visit, SOK
requested Natural Fruit to agree to a third party responsibility audit. Natural Fruit refused.
An Israeli company Prodalim has informed that it stopped buying from Natural Fruit as Natural
Fruit wouldn’t agree to a third party audit.
It is clear that if Natural Fruit has suffered financial loss it is because of Natural Fruit’s own actions.
6. Could similar charges be raised in Finland?
According to the Finnish law, a company cannot sue individuals for defamation in Finland. Also,
Finland doesn’t have a law corresponding to the Thai Computer Crime Act.
The above mentioned laws in Thailand have been internationally criticised as they result in
restrictions in freedom of speech. Human rights defenders and journalists have been brought to
court through false charges. This kind of judicial harassment provides companies and government
an effective tool to silence human rights defenders.
In Finland, a person being interviewed has the right for protection as a source. The purpose for the
protection of source is to protect the freedom of press in that this way the press can reveal societal
problems without informing the name of the source. This right is important for instance in cases
where the inverviewed’s occupation or safety is in danger. In Thailand, there is no such thing as
protection of source. This is highly problematic in situations where, as in Andy Hall’s criminal
prosecution trial, the court expects the defence to bring workers who attended the Finnwatch
interview sessions to be witnesses.
7. What would follow if Hall was found guilty of the charges against him?
Hall could end up paying compensation and penalty fees as well as being sent to prison. Hall has
been requested by Natural Fruit to pay over seven million Euros as compensation. If he is found
guilty he could also face up to seven years in prison.
Although still having not been found guilty to any of the charges against him, Andy Hall’s passport
has been confiscated and he is forced to stay as a resident in Thailand. Andy Hall’s home is
currently in Myanmar however.
8. Will Andy Hall have a fair trial in Thailand?
After the military coup in Thailand, the constitution of Thailand has been nullified. The press
freedom index rate for Thailand is 130. The corruption index rate for Thailand is 102. For
comparison, similar index ratings for Finland are 1 and 3.
There has already been problems in the court proceeding this trial. In September 2013, an attempt
was made to trick Andy Hall to sign a Thai language document where he would have pleaded guilty
to all charges against him. Andy speaks fluent Thai language and hence refused to sign the
confession document and complained about the inappropriate treatment to the police and Thailand’s
national human rights committee.
It takes a huge effort as a private person to fight a court case against a big and politically influential
company. Finnwatch has committed to support Andy Hall in every possible manner and has spent
tens of thousands of Euros for the court proceedings already, even before starting the trial. A trial in
Thailand can continue years. Natural Fruit has already filed four different cases against Hall. The
influence of the trial on Andy Hall’s personal and work life and to Finnwatch’s work is tremendous.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry has granted Finnwatch 2 000 Euros support from funds dedicated to
human rights organisations to support the trial.
9. What kind of reactions the charges against Hall have raised in Finland and internationally?
Finnwatch considers the court cases raised against Andy Hall as harassment of a human rights
defender. The cases have raised international attention and the trial has been criticised widely by
international organisations and labour rights associations.
Human rights organisations and trade unions have expressed wide support for Andy Hall. Several
actors have demanded Natural Fruit to drop charges and called for an objective investigation on
Natural Fruit’s labour conditions.
Also, the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights OHCHR has demanded
an investigation on the issue. A letter signed by five human rights special rapporteurs demanded a
report from the Thai authorities on, for instance, the working conditions of the factory as well as
protection of Andy Hall’s rights and freedom of speech.
In August 2014, over hundred international organisations initiated a campaign which demanded
Natural Fruit to drop the charges against Andy Hall. The main target for the pressure was the
pineapple producers’ association TPIA. Natural Fruit is a member and the chairman of TPIA.
For further information, please contact:
1. Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director, Finnwatch: +358(0)445687465,
2. Andy Hall, Migration Researcher: +66(0)846119209, firstname.lastname@example.org,
3. Nakhon Chomphuchart, Legal Advisor to Andy Hall: +66(0)818473086,
For more information on campaigns to drop charges against Andy Hall, please visit:
For more on the case against Andy Hall, please visit: http://www.andyjhall.wordpress.com
For more on Finnwatch, please visit: http://www.finnwatch.org/en