Leading global business association AMFORI representing over 2,000 retailers, importers, brands and associations from 40 countries with their combined turnover of more than one trillion euros issues its statement on Andy Hall’s recent conviction in Thailand (see http://www.amfori.org/news/andy-hall-verdict-human-rights-defender-found-guilty-defamation)
AMFORI joins both Andy Hall and the various United Nations human rights mandates in recognizing and showing respect for the independence of judicial powers/courts in Thailand, which ‘must be free from any external interference.’
AMFORI however is rightly ‘concerned about the negative impact’ this recent conviction may have ‘not only on the future activity of human rights defenders in Thailand, but also on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in this country.’
Andy Hall Verdict: Human Rights Defender Found Guilty of Defamation
On Monday 26 March, Thailand’s Prakanong Court in Bangkok ordered business and human rights advocate Andy Hall to pay the equivalent of €260,200 in civil damages, plus court fees, to fruit producer Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. Hall was found guilty of defamation for research he conducted on migrant worker’s rights in the Thai fruit industry.
While we recognise the independence of judicial power, which must be free from any external interference, we are concerned about the negative impact such a decision may have not only on the future activity of human rights defenders in Thailand, but also on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in this country.
We acknowledge the significant efforts Thailand has made so far to reduce the risk of worker exploitation (particularly migrant workers), in the food industry. However, we believe it is paramount for the country that these efforts go hand-in-hand with judicial decisions that enable a secure environment where international buyers and Thai companies can successfully pursue their due diligence commitments, and ensure the state honours its obligation to “protect” and provide victims access to “remedy”.