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44 NGOs send joint letter to Thai Prime Minister, ask to withdraw charges against Andy Hall

"Letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha regarding prosecution of Andy Hall", 19 Aug 2015

We, a coalition of international labor and human rights organizations...wish to convey our concern about the prosecution of migrant and worker rights defender Andy Hall...For more than a year, we have called for the unjust and abusive charges against Mr. Hall to be withdrawn...Persecuting researchers and whistle-blowing activists who reveal cases of labor exploitation is hardly a recipe for effective work against human trafficking. If Thailand is serious about improving its record in combatting human trafficking and proving it takes its human rights obligations seriously, you should act to ensure that such human rights defenders are protected against retaliation, including judicial harassment. We were particularly shocked and dismayed by the action of the Office of the Attorney General in January to appeal the court’s dismissal of the first case against Mr. Hall, which had been thrown out on October 29th, 2014 due to an unlawful interrogation...Officials within your government have repeatedly stated to NGOs in various meetings on this matter that the Thai government is an impartial observer, unable to interfere as the case moves through the judicial system, but appealing this case seems punitive and unnecessary. We call on your government to withdraw its appeal before a decision is issued on September 25th, 2015. Further prosecution of the charges against Mr. Hall will damage Thailand’s international image and violate Thailand’s obligations under international law...The best way to bring an end to this negative publicity and fulfill Thailand’s obligations under international law is to ensure that Andy Hall is released from all charges stemming from his human rights work, and to, “cease prosecuting criminal defamation cases against researchers or journalists who report on human trafficking,” in accordance with recommendations from the TIP Report...We hope that the government of the Kingdom of Thailand will protect the right to freedom of speech and not curtail legitimate research that documents when companies mistreat workers and violate labor laws...

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