FINNWATCH, PRESS RELEASE 29th October
The Prakanong Court in Bangkok dismissed defamation charges brought against Andy Hall by Natural Fruit Company Ltd, a pineapple export factory. Natural Fruit has launched multiple criminal and civil prosecution against the researcher and activist since February 2013 as a result of his contribution to a Finnwatch report published in 2013. The report revealed serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit’s pineapple juice production facilities.
According to the court decision the charge is dismissed due to unlawful interrogation process under section 120 of the criminal procedure code.
– We are relieved and glad that justice has prevailed in this case, says Sonja Vartiala, the Executive Director of Finnwatch.
During Andy Hall’s trial, the court heard, for instance, a former worker of Natural Fruit who testified that the factory was hiring under aged children and paid unlawfully low salaries to its workers.
– The court hearings were yet another confirmation that, as Finnwatch’s report revealed, there are serious problems in working conditions at Natural Fruit. The question that now must be asked is why Thailand’s authorities have not taken action against the company however, says Vartiala.
The case verdict today, concerning an interview Hall gave to Aljazeeraa on his criminal prosecutions is just the first of four cases filed against Andy Hall by Natural Fruit. The second case, a US$10m civil defamation case, will begin tomorrow (30th of October) at Nakhon Pathom Court. The third case, computer crimes act and criminal defamation charges, will proceed on 17th of November at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court. Dates for a fourth US$4 million civil case have not yet been confirmed.
If Hall is found guilty of the additional criminal and civil cases, he could face up to seven years in prison and be forced to pay millions of Euros for compensation.
– Finnwatch demands Natural Fruit now drop all the charges against Andy Hall. Instead of allowing companies to bring human rights activists to court, Thailand needs to prosecute companies like Natural Fruit, who are violating labour rights, says Vartiala.
Finnwatch and hundreds of other international NGO’s regard the court proceedings against Andy Hall as judicial harassment and see that his important and successful work is being seriously hindered by these actions.
Today, international demonstrations will be held in Finland, Netherlands, UK and the United States to support Andy Hall.
For further information, please contact:
1. Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director, Finnwatch: +358(0)445687465, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Andy Hall, Migration Researcher: +66(0)846119209, email@example.com, twitter @atomicalandy
3. Nakhon Chomphuchart, Legal Advisor to Andy Hall: +66(0)818473086, firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information, see also our document “Q&A Criminal Trial of Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall”
For more information on the case against Andy Hall, please visit: http://www.andyjhall.wordpress.com
29th Oct is a global day of action in support of Andy Hall and demonstrations will be organized in four countries. More information about the events:
– Helsinki, Finland, 9 a.m. Contact: Sonja Vartiala, sonja.vartiala (a) finnwatch.org, event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1549376001960080/
– The Hague, Netherlands, 10 a.m. Contact: Wendy Schutte, Wendy.Schutte (a) fairfood.org
– London, United Kingdom, 4:30 p.m. Contact: Owen Tudor, OTudor (a) tuc.org.uk, event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/545374012263029/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
– Washington, DC, USA, 4:30 p.m. Contact: Abby McGill, abby (a) ilrf.org, event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/577748169019525/