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Finnwatch Statement 24th April 2018: Thai court orders immediate issuance of arrest warrant for Andy Hall

Finnwatch Press Statement 24th April 2018: Thai court orders immediate issuance of arrest warrant for Andy Hall

https://www.finnwatch.org/en/news/542-thai-court-orders-immediate-issuance-of-arrest-warrant-for-andy-hall

Bangkok South Criminal Court today ordered for the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for Andy Hall with a view to ensuring Hall’s attendance in the court to hear a verdict of the Appeals Court on multiple appeals against his September 2016 criminal conviction.

Diplomats from the EU Mission to Thailand alongside UK, Finnish and Swedish embassy officials and officials from OHCHR and ICJ attended today’s hearing alongside Hall’s legal defence team, a source at the Court informed Finnwatch.

The court was originally expected to read the appeals verdict today but the hearing on the appeal was instead adjourned until 31st May 2018 given Hall did not attend the court in person. Andy Hall is currently no longer resident in Thailand and attests that he was not formally summonsed to attend the Court today through any official or lawful channels.

In response to the todays news, Hall provided the following statement to Finnwatch:

“I have faced intolerable amounts of judicial harassment which essentially undermined my ability to do human rights work effectively inside Thailand. This is why I left the country in November 2016. I am disappointed and concerned this warrant has now being issued for my arrest and this unacceptable judicial harassment against me continues unabated.”

“I am currently receiving assistance from a team of international lawyers acting on my behalf on the issue of enforcement of Thai Court orders in criminal and civil cases against me when I am no longer resident in Thailand. I shall continue to consult closely with both my Thai and international legal defence teams on these issues and concerning potential issuance of international arrest warrants against me. I shall also make representations to the UK government and the European Union to immediately raise concerns on whether today’s arrest warrant issuance by the Court was in accordance with Thai and international law.”

On 20th September 2016, Andy Hall was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment (reduced by one year and suspended by two years) and ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 baht (reduced to 150,000 baht) following his conviction on criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges. The proceedings against Hall were initiated by a Thai pineapple company Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. in 2013.

Andy Hall left Thailand shortly after his conviction claiming unbearable judicial harassment when additional criminal charges were filed against him by a chicken farm, Thammakaset Company Ltd, in November 2016. His legal team however submitted an appeal against this conviction on 8th February 2017. Natural Fruit also appealed the verdict in December 2016 seeking an immediate custodial sentence against Hall. An Appeals Court’s decision can be further appealed to Thailand’s Supreme Court.

In 2012, Andy Hall interviewed Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. workers for the Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price, published in 2013. These interviewees’ testimonies detailed allegations of labour abuse which, when published by Finnwatch, provided the reason for Natural Fruit’s prosecution in this case.

Should Andy Hall fail to appear at Bangkok South Criminal Court again on 31st May 2018, the Appeals Court verdict may be read in absentia.

”We remain hopeful the Appeals Court will acquit Andy of all these charges. The charges against him stem from his legitimate work as a human rights defender and migrant worker rights activist. He is not a criminal,” said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch.

For more information on this and the other three criminal and civil cases filed by Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. against Andy Hall, please see Finnwatch Q&A document, last updated on 23rd April 2018, available 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-200420821

Contact:

Sonja Vartiala

Executive Director, Finnwatch

+358(0)445687465

sonja.vartiala (a) finnwatch.org

Nakhon Chomphuchat

Lawyer to Andy Hall

+66(0)818473086

nakhonct (a) gmail.com

Andy Hall

andyjhall1979(a) gmail.com

+977 (0) 982348663

Our mailing address is:

Finnwatch ry

Malminrinne 1B

Helsinki 00180

Finland

Our telephone:

+358405075070

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Andy Hall’s Statement on Thai Court’s Issuance of Warrant for His Arrest: 24th April 2018

Andy Hall’s Statement on Thai Court’s Issuance of Warrant for His Arrest:

24th April 2018

‘I have been informed Bangkok South Criminal Court today ordered for the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for me with a view to ensuring my attendance in the court to hear a verdict of the Appeals Court on multiple appeals against my September 2016 criminal conviction. My legal team was informed the court would read the appeals verdict today but the hearing was adjourned until 31st May 2018 given I did not attend the court. I am no longer resident in Thailand and was not formally summonsed to attend the Court today through any official channels. I have faced intolerable amounts of judicial harassment which essentially undermined my ability to do human rights work effectively inside Thailand. This is why I left the country in November 2016. I am disappointed and concerned this warrant has now being issued for my arrest and this unacceptable judicial harassment against me continues unabated. I am currently receiving assistance from a team of international lawyers acting on my behalf on the issue of enforcement of Thai Court orders in criminal and civil cases against me when I am no longer resident in Thailand. I shall continue to consult closely with both my Thai and international legal defence teams on these issues and concerning potential issuance of international arrest warrants against me. I shall also make representations to the UK government and the European Union to immediately raise concerns on whether today’s arrest warrant issuance by the Court was in accordance with Thai and international law.’

24 Apr 9am: Appeals Court to Rule on Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall criminal conviction at Bangkok South Criminal Court

Andy Hall’s legal defence team has notified him that tomorrow (Tue. 24th April 2018) at 9am, Bangkok South Criminal Court has informed them by means of a court summons that an Appeals Court verdict concerning appeals by both parties in the criminal case Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall shall be read out at the Court. Andy Hall does not intend to attend this Court hearing personally tomorrow as he is no longer resident in Thailand and he has not formally been summonsed to attend the court hearing through any official channel or means.

This particular Appeals Court decision follows over a year and a half after the decision by the lower court, Bangkok South Criminal Court, which on 20th September 2016 sentenced me to four years’ imprisonment (reduced by one year and suspended by two years) and ordered him to pay a fine of 200, 000 baht (reduced to 150,000 baht) following his conviction on charges of criminal defamation and Computer Crimes.

These private criminal proceedings against Andy Hall were initiated by the Thai pineapple company Natural Fruit Co Ltd. in 2013. This specific criminal case prosecution relates to interviews conducted in 2012 with migrant workers of Natural Fruit Co. Ltd for a Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price, published in 2013. Worker interviewees’ testimonies detailed allegations of violations of labour and human rights by the company against the migrant workers from Myanmar.

For more information on this and the other three criminal and civil cases filed by Natural Fruit Co. Ltd against Andy Hall, see Finnwatch Q&A document, last updated in March 2018 and available at http://finnwatch.org/images/NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_March2018.pdf

Also see http://www.andyjhall.wordpress.com which is a case blog for more related and recently updated case information

Recently on 26th March 2018, the Prakanong Court read its verdict in a separate civil defamation case filed against Andy Hall in 2014, ordering him to pay 10 million baht (260 000 euros) in damages to Natural Fruit, including an interest of 7.5% from the date of filing the case until the amount is fully paid. The Court also ordered him to pay 10,000 baht towards Natural Fruit’s lawyer and court fees. Hall has instructed his legal team to appeal this ruling. The ruling was widely criticised internationally, including by both the UK government and private sector European Businesses (see https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/thai-court-orders-defender-andy-halls-payment-of-10-million-baht-in-damages-to-natural-fruit-co for responses to the verdict)

UK Government expresses support in Parliament for Andy Hall following his recent defamation conviction in Thailand

Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office Mark Field responds to a UK Parliamentary Question tabled by labour MP Kerry McCarthy expressing the UK Government’s support for Andy Hall and his/MWRN’s work after his recent Natural Fruit civil defamation case conviction.

——

19 April 2018 Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he has provided consular assistance to the British human rights campaigner Andy Hall, who has been sentenced for defamation in Thailand.

Mark Field: Mr Hall has not recently requested consular assistance. However, we have been active in supporting him in relation to his work promoting human rights. Embassy staff have attended trial hearings and raised his case with the Thai authorities. We shall continue this work, and stand ready to provide consular assistance should he require it. The British Government supports the right of human rights defenders to carry out their work without fear of harassment or reprisals. We also support full implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-04-13/135505/

Unofficial English Language Translation: Verdict Prakanong Court 26th March 2018 Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall civil defamation case

Unofficial English Language Translation verdict of Prakanong Court from 26th March 2018 in Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall civil defamation case for which the Court ordered Andy Hall to pay more than 10 million baht to the company. The original Thai language verdict is available online at https://freedom.ilaw.or.th/yii/images/uploads/Andy%20Hall%20Civil%20Case%20Verdict.pdf

This judgement has wide ranging negative ramifications for freedom of expression of journalists, researchers, NGOs and human rights defenders present in Thailand. According to the verdict, Prakanong Court found Andy Hall guilty because:
It is found from the testimony of the Defendant (Andy Hall) that he collected information used in the research report by only means of inquiring some of the Plaintiff’s workers which is not yet certain if such information was true as it was provided by only some of the Plaintiff’s workers. Although it appears that Finnwatch contacted the Plaintiff to cooperate in the problem-solving but the Plaintiff did not cooperate as requested and refused to allow the organization to undertake an inspection, it is because Finnwatch did not have any document issued by a Thai government agency to request an inspection of the Plaintiff’s factory. Besides, as the Defendant is the labor expert who has conducted many researches and worked for several international organizations, he should be aware of researchers’ ethics in the presentation of his research and should be aware of the variety of impact on researched parties once the research findings were disseminated to the public. On the contrary, the Defendant gave the interview with the journalist referring to the Plaintiff in a manner of committing unlawful acts and abusing workers which contradict to the fact. The statements are not of fair criticism in good faith with a view to protecting the public interest as a whole. Later on, the video and audio clip of the Defendant’s interview was posted on the internet which is a circulation of the statements that are inconsistent with the fact resulting in the damages to reputation and means of earnings of the Plaintiff. Therefore, it is a wrongful act against the Plaintiff in accordance with Article 423 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code.

For more information on the Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall cases see http://finnwatch.org/images/NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_March2018.pdf http://www.andyjhall.wordpress.com and https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/thai-court-orders-defender-andy-halls-payment-of-10-million-baht-in-damages-to-natural-fruit-co?utm_ content=bufferb31a1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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11th Apr: Nordic food companies’ comment on the Court decision 26th March 2018 regarding defamation case against human rights advocate Andy Hall

Nordic food companies’ comment on the Court decision 26th March 2018 regarding defamation case against human rights advocate Andy Hall

On Monday 26th March, Thailand’s Prakanong Court found business and human rights advocate Andy Hall guilty of defamation for researching and speaking out on migrant workers’ rights in the Thai fruit industry. Hall was ordered to pay the equivalent of EUR 260,200 in civil damages plus court fees to fruit producer Natural Fruit Co. Ltd.

The court order is first and foremost a backlash for human rights defenders, migrant workers and all others in Thailand who want to testify about misconduct. It will doubtlessly prove to be harmful to Natural Fruit Co. Ltd’s business potential with Nordic and European buyers who endorse international labor standards and mechanism for putting forward grievances in a safe and legal manner. In addition, the court order is harmful to Thailand as a food producing and exporting country. Continue reading