11 January 2016 MEDIA ADVISORY
British Migrant Rights Defender Andy Hall to Surrender to Thai Court on Computer Crimes and Criminal Defamation Charges Prior to Official Indictment Hearing
British migrant rights defender Andy Hall will formally surrender himself into custody pending a request for temporary release on bail to Bangkok South Criminal Court (Charoen Krung Road) on 13th January 2016 at 9am. This is in response to the Court’s acceptance for indictment in August 2015 of a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act prosecution filed against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. in February 2013.
In addition to this bail procedure, Hall has been summoned and is required to attend the Court again on 18th January for his official indictment in this case at 9am in Courtroom 501 (Black Case No. Or 517/2556)
Finnwatch, the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA) and Thai Union Group have prepared 300,000 Baht between them for submission to the court on 13th January in support of Hall’s and as a bail surety. As a condition for bail, the Court may also order Hall’s passport to be confiscated and impose a travel ban on his entering and leaving Thailand. Prakanong Court confiscated Hall’s passport and imposed a travel ban on him from May to October 2014 during the trial of the first criminal defamation case against him filed by Natural Fruit Company, in relation to an Aljazeera interview in Myanmar.
Andy Hall will plead ‘not guilty’ to all the charges filed against him in this case on 18th January at the Court hearing. The charges carry a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment if guilt is established.
The criminal charges in this case relate to the publication of a Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price in 2013. The report exposed several human rights violations at the Natural Fruit Company Ltd. pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Kiri Khan Province in Southern Thailand. Andy Hall coordinated the field research for the report and conducted interviews with Natural Fruit workers.
After seven preliminary hearings, the Bangkok South Criminal Court on 24th August 2015 decided to proceed this case to a full criminal trial and announced it would formally call Andy Hall for indictment on 19th October 2015. That indictment hearing was however adjourned until January 2016 because the summons had not been served to Hall in accordance with the law.
This case is only one of four cases filed by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. against Andy Hall. The other criminal defamation case, related to an Aljazeera interview given by Hall in Myanmar, was dismissed by the Appeals Court on 18th September 2015 but Natural Fruit and Thailand’s Attorney General were granted leave in December 2015 to file further appeals with the Supreme Court. Natural Fruit has also filed two civil defamation/damages claims against Andy Hall requesting 400 million baht in damages.
The cases brought against Hall have been widely criticised as judicial harassment and an attempt to silence a human rights defender. Criminal defamation charges also breach rights to freedom of expression.
Andy Hall’s case was raised extensively in the EU Parliament debate on Thailand in October 2015 and the EU Commission representatives, alongside 4-5 EU member states, continue to observe all court hearings in Hall’s cases.
For more information, please see attached Q&A.
Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director, Finnwatch: +358(0)445687465, sonja.vartiala (a) finnwatch.org, http://www.finnwatch.org
Andy Hall, Researcher: +66(0)846119209, andyjhall1979 (a) gmail.com, twitter @atomicalandy, https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/
Nakhon Chomphuchart, Legal Advisor to Andy Hall: +66(0)818473086, nakhonct (a) gmail.com