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31 May 2018

Thailand: Appeal court dismisses criminal defamation charges against labour rights defender Andy Hall

"Thai appeals court throws out case against British rights activist", 31 May 2018

An appeal court in Thailand has dismissed criminal defamation charges against a British labour rights activist who was sued by a fruit packing company after alleged human rights violations at its factory. Andy Hall’s protracted legal battle stemmed from a 2013 report he researched for Finnish consumer organisation Finnwatch which alleged labour abuses at Natural Fruit’s...operation. It employed migrant workers from Burma who said the company abused them and broke labour regulations. Sunya Joongdee, a lawyer for Mr Hall, said the court ruling dismissed the criminal defamation case, which also resulted in the collapse of a related computer crime case. He said the court accepted Mr Hall’s interviews with migrant workers revealed information that should be made public. Mr Hall was found guilty of criminal defamation in 2016, fined and given a suspended prison sentence. His legal victory was welcomed by Amnesty International but is not necessarily the end of protracted court battles... Natural Fruit, owned by...Wirat Piyapornpaiboon, can appeal to the Supreme Court. Other cases brought by both sides as the legal battle escalated are still before the courts. On Twitter, Mr Hall said he had previously lost hope of justice but now a “flame was reignited in my heart”. “There is still the possibility that today’s verdict could lead in some way to peace and reconciliation,” he said.