27th Apr 2018: Finland’s conglomerate S Group announces support for Andy Hall’s civil defamation appeal submission costs

Public statement issued today by Finland’s leading private sector co-operative conglomerate S Group (copied in full below)

https://www.s-kanava.fi/en/uutinen/the-freedom-of-action-of-human-rights-defenders-must-be-ensured/4442128_384136

Alongside Freedom Fund organisation, S Group today announced that it has donated the funds required to allow Andy Hall to submit an appeal against his recent Natural Fruit case civil defamation conviction. Thai Court regulations mean that in order to appeal this particular civil conviction, Hall needs in advance of the appeal submission to place a deposit at the court of almost 8, 000 Euros. Prakanong Court in Bangkok on 26th March 2018 ordered Hall to pay over 10 million baht to Natural Fruit Company in civil defamation damages and legal fees. The unofficial English translation of this verdict is available online at https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/unofficial-english-language-translation-verdict-prakanong-court-26th-march-2018-natural-fruit-vs-andy-hall-civil-defamation-case/

S Group’s decision today in pledging further support to Andy Hall is yet another positive example or case study of increasing private sector or business commitment to human rights defenders and human rights globally, as well as a genuine and innovative attempt by a company at supply chain responsibility. In July 2016, an S Group senior executive previously was a defence witness at Andy Hall’s Natural Fruit criminal defamation and computer crimes trial, joining other senior executives from the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA) and Thai Union Group. Likewise, TTIA, Thai Union and the Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA) previously covered bail costs as part of legal proceedings against Andy Hall in the Natural Fruit cases. TTIA and Thai Union, alongside Finnwatch, also previously paid a 150, 000 Thai baht fine imposed by the Bangkok South Criminal Court in Hall’s previous Natural Fruit criminal defamation and computer crimes conviction for which he was handed down a 3 year suspended prison sentence in September 2016.

Andy Hall is very grateful today to both S Group and Freedom Fund for contributing the 8, 000 Euros that makes the appeal against his civil defamation conviction now possible. Hall hopes in particular however that this private sector support to him can be cited as a positive example of corporate social responsibility and respect for business and human rights principles by other human rights defenders working hard and effectively on issues of business and human rights across the globe. This positive development and support by private sector actors like S Group in Hall’s case also shows that every dark cloud has a silver lining.

For more on the other public support provided to Andy Hall by the international business sector (including ETI, Amfori/BSCI and various Nordic retailers and companies) in their pledge to support more effectively the work of human rights defenders in the area of business and human rights generally, see https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/support/

For more on Natural Fruit’s ongoing judicial harassment against Andy Hall, see Finnwatch’s Q&A information sheet at http://finnwatch.org/images/NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_April2018.pdf?utm_source=Andyn+kontaktilista&utm_campaign=21ba7517fa-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_16dcaaec6c-21ba7517fa-200426829

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S Group Statement Today

The freedom of action of human rights defenders must be ensured

At the end of March the Thai court ordered human rights defender Andy Hall to pay 260 000 Eur in compensation for the defamation to Natural Fruit company.

We are upset about the verdict. Human rights defenders make a significant efforts to improve workers’ rights and should have the opportunity to act without fear. A free civil society benefits businesses also. Instead of the legal process, the problems must be resolved first and foremost with transparency and dialogue.

In recent years Thailand has launched measures to eradicate human rights violations. The measures are steps to the right direction, but alongside them, the work of NGOs and human rights defenders is also needed to improve human rights situation. In addition employees must have the opportunity to safely and legitimately raise their concerns.

Lea Rankinen, SVP Sustainability, SOK

tel. 010 768 2453

A report released by Finnwatch in March 2013 revealed misconducts of the production conditions of pineapple juice in Thailand. One of researchers of the report British lawyer Andy Hall has been charged with several other charges of defamation, which is considered to be a very serious offense in Thailand. The S Group representative testified for Hall in Bangkok in the trial in summer 2016. The trial was related to a different charge than the verdict now given. S Group has made a donation to the collection of Freedom Fund which supports Andy Hall in appealing a court decision.

Andy Hall

Migrant Worker Rights Specialist

+977 (0) 9823486634

@atomicalandy (Twitter)

Andyjhall1979@gmail.com

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