Category Archives: Uncategorized

Andy Hall’s personal reflections on ongoing judicial harassment against him in Thailand: 25th April 2018

Researching serious migrant worker human and labour rights violations that continue to be systematic in Thai labour intensive export industries including seafood, poultry, rubber, garment/textiles, fruit, vegetables & electronics, as well as in tourism/restaurants and many other industries, is not a crime. In fact, it’s the moral and ethical responsibility of non-Thai people like myself and all those around the world including companies and importing governments, investors, consumers, traders and media/civil society who are knowingly or unknowingly complicit in this systematics abuse that exists in global supply chains that source from Thailand and whose often cheap products come easily into our lives everyday. It’s our joint responsibility and duty, and especially that of companies, investors and governments under the international business human rights framework, to understand, uncover and respond diligently and with real commitment and effort to the real extent and nature of the inhumane abuse of migrant workers and modern day slavery that still exists in every corner of Thailand. This is despite some significant and notable improvements in conditions of migrant workers in Thailand in the past, which must be acknowledged but which also have mostly been sector specific and only in response to extensive public exposure of this specific abuse (i.e. seafood). In my time in Thailand, I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to delve deeper and in more detail into the ongoing systematic migrant worker rights abuses and modern slavery that still exists in its many global supply chains like in rubber (linked to medical/rubber gloves, contraceptives, tires, footwear), fruit, garment, electronics and even tourism and hospitality. I only exposed the tip of the iceberg in my limited and challenging research undertaken for Finnwatch/Swedwatch and other consumer watchdogs on seafood, poultry, pineapple, rubber gloves and children’s toys. The ongoing judicial harassment that prevented my ongoing work and projects in Thailand and meant that I was left with no choice but to leave the country sends a clear signal to researchers, activists, human rights defenders and reporters around the world that Thailand does not welcome this kind of independent scrutiny of conditions of migrant workers in its supply chains as a genuine means to enhance rule of law and contribute, supplementing alongside existing audits and business efforts, to positive change in migrant worker and business human rights conditions in the country. It’s now up to the Thai government and the many increasingly ethical responsible businesses in the country to show, with investor and overseas company/government support, that independent scrutiny of supply chain conditions is welcome and indeed much needed also. Law reform to protect human rights defenders, researchers and journalists against SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) cases is urgent. And it’s necessary for Thailand to also show that the irrational, vengeful, hate-filled and face obsessed owners and management of outdated irresponsible companies like Natural Fruit and Thammakaset are not what Thailand is really about these days. These companies must now face the hard consequences of their irrational actions and unless they change their behaviour, find that they have no place to export their tainted products overseas. The mafia like and impunity breeding dominance of influential industry leaders in export industries of the past is hopefully slowly changing to give way in Thailand to responsible and transparent corporate conduct that respects and enhances the rule of law. The ongoing onslaught of criminal and civil prosecutions against me, the witch hunt essentially being undertaken by ONE company only that is leading this irrational response to silence dissent, save face and prevent transparency of past wrongs sends the completely wrong signal to the international community, governments, companies, investors, traders, consumers, civil society and media that impunity continues unchecked in Thailand, injustice reigns, that civil society work is not respected or supported and corporate conduct remains unethical despite pledges to respect business human rights as a national agenda. That’s deeply disappointing and counterproductive for everyone involved, not least Thailand, it’s ethical industry actors and the migrant workers I have always fought for and who arrived in Thailand only with the hope of leading a better life, supporting their families and fulfilling their personal dreams.

Advertisements

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

sexslsd Continue reading

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