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11 Apr 2018

Axfood (Sweden), Axfoundation (Sweden), Coop (Sweden), Findus (Sweden), Ethical Trading Initiative (Norway), Martin & Servera (Sweden), Menigo (Sweden), Norvida (Sweden), SOK (Finland), Unil (Norway)

Nordic food companies say verdict against Andy Hall is harmful to Thailand as exporting country & emphasize importance of free civil society

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

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...a backlash for human rights defenders, migrant workers... It will doubtlessly prove to be harmful to Natural Fruit Co. Ltd’s business potential with Nordic and European buyers... [T]he court order is harmful to Thailand as...exporting country. In recent years, following massive pressure..., Thailand has made efforts to reduce...risk of exploitation of workers...Nevertheless, the decision taken by the...Court... challenges business relations with Thailand for Nordic companies... We agree with Ethical Trading Initiative UK upon the following three necessities going forward: Better grievance mechanisms and the commitment to use them at company level, [b]etter dispute resolution mechanisms and the commitment to use them at industry association level, [and] [r]esponsible national regulation to resolve future disputes if companies and associations fail. [W]e signatories with essential business relations with Thai food exporters, emphasise the importance of a free civil society in Thailand and that revealing human rights violations should not be punished.