Today (2nd July, 2018) Andy Hall, a British migrant worker rights specialist, received confirmation from his legal defence team in Thailand that the Appeals Court for Corruption & Misconduct Cases recently dismissed his counter criminal prosecutions filed in May 2017 against 10 State prosecution and police officials. The Appeals Court upheld a first instance decision of the Central Court for Corruption & Misconduct Cases that dismissed these prosecutions back in September 2017. Hall’s legal defence team is considering this Appeals Court ruling in detail to prepare to appeal the prosecution dismissal to Thailand’s highest Court, the Supreme Court.
The judgement of the Appeals Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases, issued on 9th May 2018 and available in Thai language (see คำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์คดีแอนดี้ศาลอาญาทุจริต), outlines various reasons for dismissing Hall’s counter criminal prosecutions. The Court ruled that none of the 10 officials named in Hall’s prosecutions (including police officers, state prosecutors and senior officials from the Attorney General’s department) had acted unlawfully in launching in July 2013 a criminal defamation prosecution against Hall which the Supreme Court, affirming decisions of both Prakanong Court and the Appeals Court, ruled in November 2016 was an unlawful prosecution. The Court also ruled that none of these officials had sought to unfairly persecute Hall or cause him any damage or loss by means of their prosecution against him .
This recent dismissal follows a May 2018 decision of Prakanong Court in Bangkok that issued its first instance judgement also dismissing a counter criminal prosecution case filed in May 2017 by Hall against Thailand’s Natural Fruit Company Ltd. and two of its senior executives. Hall’s legal defense team is also preparing to appeal this first instance Court ruling to the Appeals Court.
The unlawful criminal defamation prosecution that led to these two sets of dismissed counter criminal prosecutions concerned an interview Hall gave to Aljazeera English in Myanmar in April 2013 that allegedly defamed Natural Fruit Company and which, when broadcast and distributed, allegedly caused the company and its owners damage. This prosecution by Natural Fruit was filed as a criminal complaint at Bangna Police Station, recommended for prosecution by the police before being accepted by Prakanong Prosecutor and Thailand’s Attorney General.
Despite Thailand’s Supreme Court dismissing the related criminal defamation case against Hall, Prakanong Court went on however to find Hall guilty of civil defamation concerning this same Aljazeera interview in April 2018. The Court ordered Hall to pay Natural Fruit Company 10 million Euros in damages as well as legal fees. Following a donation of over 12, 000 Euros from S Group and Freedom Fund to cover related Court fees required to appeal this conviction, as well as additional donations received towards mounting legal fees, Hall’s legal defense team is currently preparing an appeal against this recent civil defamation conviction also.
Hall’s counter criminal prosecution cases filed against state officials and Natural Fruit Company were launched so as to allow detailed judicial consideration of the unlawful nature of the previous criminal defamation prosecution filed by Natural Fruit Company and jointly prosecuted by Thailand’s Attorney General against Hall. The ruling of Thailand’s Supreme Court in favour of Hall in the Aljazeera interview criminal case provided his legal defense team with the legal option to launch counter criminal prosecutions against Natural Fruit company, it’s executives and State prosecution officials in order to try to defend Hall from ongoing judicial harassment he was facing in the country prior to his departure in late 2016.
‘I continue to pursue counter litigations consisting of two sets of criminal prosecutions today with a heavy heart and not out of anger or with any desire for revenge. It is regretful that things have reached this stage. However, it is necessary to continue to pursue these litigations as I must defend myself against an unlawful prosecution and sustained judicial harassment waged against me that continues unabated,’ said Andy Hall from Kathmandu in Nepal.
‘I was encouraged to initiate these litigations by migrant workers whom I continue to support in Thailand. After both my criminal and civil convictions, many workers and rights defenders in Thailand and even globally told me they hesitate to voice concerns on exploitation or report fully on abuses due to fear of negative repercussions. Despite the Appeals Court already overturning my only outstanding criminal conviction in May 2018, it’s still imperative that these two sets of counter criminal prosecutions claim space back for victims of rights abuses, exploited workers and human rights defenders to speak out with confidence about unlawful conduct by business and state actors without repercussions,’ said Hall.
‘I also continue to pursue these counter criminal prosecutions because of the advice and support provided to me by a committed team of human rights lawyers. My legal team and I aim to contribute through these litigations towards reform of the Thai justice system that is being wrongly utilized to harass human rights defenders like myself. Such reform of the Thai justice system through pressure from litigation such as mine can hopefully enhance the rule of law and ensure meaningful accountability for victims of the unlawful and unacceptable abuse of state police investigatory and prosecutorial powers in Thailand,’ Hall added today.
For more information on this recent Appeals Court judgement, Andy Hall’s counter prosecution and other cases concerning the Natural Fruit saga, contact Andy Hall on +977(0)9823486634 and Andyjhall1979@gmail.com OR Nakhon Chomphuchat, head of Andy Hall’s legal team on +66(0)818 473086 and firstname.lastname@example.org
For more detailed information on the Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall saga including information on numerous other criminal and civil cases involved, see updated May 2018 Finnwatch Q&A (NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_May312018) OR the Andy Hall vs. Natural Fruit blog site www.andyjhall.wordpress.com