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Court finds Andy Hall guilty of defamation; activists say verdict a setback in the fight against modern-day slavery

Andy-Hall-court

Further information is available in the following pages:

Thailand: Rights defender Andy Hall goes on trial for criminal defamation & computer crimes

Thai court indicts Andy Hall despite NGOs calls to drop charges brought by Natural Fruit; buyers approached

Thailand: Public support for activist Andy Hall grows; trial for case filed by Natural Fruit begins 2 Sept.

Reports and statements on lawsuits filed by Natural Fruit against researcher and activist Andy Hall for alleged defamation

 

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Article
26 June 2018

Thailand: English translation of seminal judgement in favour of migrant worker & business and human rights defender Andy Hall which states work of defenders is in public interest

Author: Mr Witthaya Phromprasit, Ms Worajit Saengsook & Mr Natthaphong Thapananetiphong, The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court (Thailand)

"Judgement: Criminal Case Between Natural Fruit Company Ltd.  (Plaintiff) Mr Andy Hall OR Mr Andrew Jonathan Hall (Defendant) Concerning:  Defamation, violation of the Computer-Related Crimes Act", 31 May 2018

...Finnwatch’s purpose was to have the defendant conducted a research to find out if there had been any human rights violation in the plaintiff’s factory because Finland focused on the safety of consumer goods. It was necessary for the consumers to know where the goods came from and if there was any human rights violation involved, which was to comply with the standards of the International Labour Organization in association with the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) system… Finnwatch could be regarded as a representative of the consumers to engage in examining the fact about the said issue… Those agencies, to which Finnwatch sent its email messages...were organizations or agencies directly responsible for the examination, protection and promotion of workers’ rights. Apart from the dissemination of the said information, the press conference organized by Finnwatch to inform those attended the conference was in the public interest... [T]he public as well as concerned people had the right to disclose the said information so that the problems could be solved in the future. The act of Finnwatch was thus deemed as an expression of opinion or statement in good faith, by way of self-justification or defence or for the protection of legitimate interest and by way of fair comment on any person or thing subjected to public criticism... Such act of Finnwatch was therefore not deemed as an offense...

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Article
1 June 2018

Thailand: Defender Andy Hall comments on judgement & underlines court ruled defenders' activity was to be promoted in Thai society

Author: Andy Hall (Nepal)

"Statement by Andy Hall 31 May 2018 on Appeals Court Verdict", 31 May 2018

‘’I welcome Thailand’s Appeals Court’s decision today overturning the September 2016 ruling of Bangkok South Criminal Court convicting me of criminal defamation and computer crimes. I take the decision as a positive sign that my and Finnwatch’s research and report on alleged rights violations against migrant workers in Thailand was not an unlawful activity. Further, the Court ruled most progressively that this activity was in the public interest and to be promoted in the Thai society. I have always remained committed to helping Thai society towards promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers. My time away from Thailand has also provided me ample opportunity to reflect on my previous actions. I take this opportunity today to reaffirm my sincere intention to work constructively and positively with all parties concerned and my legal defense team to find means to bring about genuine reconciliation on all of my legal cases and disputes that are ongoing in Thailand. I believe firmly that reconciliation would benefit all those involved in and adversely impacted by these disputes... I look forward hopefully one day in the not too distant future to working once again with all sides in Thailand..."

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Article
21 September 2016

Thai Court Finds British Labor Activist Guilty of Defamation

Author: Mike Ives, New York Times

20 Sept 2016

A Thai court...found a British labor activist guilty of defamation and computer crimes, a verdict that some experts and rights advocates predicted would harm efforts to protect migrant workers in Southeast Asia.

The activist, Andy Hall, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined about $4,300 in connection with his work on a 2013 report by a Finnish advocacy group that accused Natural Fruit, based in Thailand, of violating its workers’ rights.

But the court suspended the sentence for two years. That means Mr. Hall is effectively on probation and will go free if he commits no crimes during that time, said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of the advocacy group, Finnwatch.

Human rights advocates said Tuesday that the case would impede efforts to investigate corporate supply chains in Thailand. Rights groups and Western governments have accused Thailand of failing to prevent widespread abuses of migrant workers, including forced labor...

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Article
21 September 2016

Thai defamation verdict a setback in anti-slavery fight, say activists

Author: Alisa Tang, Reuters

20 Sept 2016

A guilty verdict for a British activist in Thailand charged with defamation for alleging ill-treatment of migrant workers at a big fruit company sets an alarming precedent in the fight against labour exploitation, rights groups said on Tuesday.

A Thai court handed Andy Hall of the Migrant Worker Rights Network a three-year suspended prison sentence for criminally defaming Natural Fruit Company, a pineapple wholesaler that supplies the European Union, over a 2013 report he helped author for Finnwatch, a Finland-based watchdog group.

"This will clearly have a chilling effect on independent research on supply chains all over Thailand," Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said.

"The concern is that we will see copycat prosecutions from other companies anytime someone criticises them."

Thailand's harsh defamation laws have drawn criticism from rights groups concerned about curbs on freedom of speech in a country at the centre of scores of reports about labour rights violations and modern-day slavery in its food industries...

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Article
20 September 2016

Andy Hall: Thai court finds UK activist guilty of defamation

Author: BBC

A British activist who campaigned for the rights of migrant workers in Thailand's fruit industry has been given a three-year suspended jail term.

Andy Hall, from Lincolnshire, had contributed to a report by a Finnish watchdog in 2013 alleging the Natural Fruit Company mistreated its workers.

The company sued Hall for criminal defamation. He was also charged with computer crimes.

Hall has previously said the charges amount to judicial harassment...

Hall's sentence was suspended for two years, meaning he will not go to jail. The court in Bangkok also fined him.

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