Thai court indicts Andy Hall despite NGOs calls to drop charges brought by Natural Fruit; buyers approached
In September 2014, British labour rights activist and researcher Andy Hall faced trial for one of six criminal and civil cases under Thailand’s defamation laws and Computer Crimes Act, brought by pineapple processing company Natural Fruit. The company started filing the cases in February 2013, after Hall exposed abuses in its factories through a report published by NGO Finnwatch called “Cheap Has a High Price”. The alleged abuses included violence against employees, forced overtime, use of underage labour, and confiscation of passports of Myanmar migrant workers. The criminal charges carry a maximum of eight years in prison, and civil damages could total over $10 million. The first criminal defamation case was dismissed in October 2014 due to unlawful interrogation process.
The final preliminary hearing of the first in the series of criminal cases was scheduled for July 20, but the court decided to postpone the decision until August 24, amid calls on international NGOs and trade unions to drop charges. During the week leading to the 24 August indictment hearing, Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) joined the international movement in support of Andy Hall and asked its member companies to use their influence and request Natural Fruit and subsidiaries to drop the charges. Walk Free lanched a petition asking to drop the charges against Andy Hall. On 19 August, a coalition of 44 human rights and labour organizations, including Business & Human Rights Resource Centre sent a joint letter to the Thai Prime Minister asking for the charges to be dropped.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre also contacted eight US companies that are reported to purchase from Natural Fruit and asked them to provide a statement on the Andy Hall case. We then contacted with the same request six additional buyers based in Australian, Europe and Latin America.
On 24th August, the Bangkok South Criminal Court decided to indict Andy Hall in the criminal defamation and computer crimes act case.
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