Andy Hall found guilty in a shock ruling by Bangkok court
Andy Hall arriving to Bangkok South Criminal Court earlier today. In light of the evidence presented to the court during the trial, the sentence was unexpected.
British migrant rights defender Andy Hall found guilty in a shock ruling by Bangkok court
Bangkok South Criminal Court today announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.
The Court found Andy Hall guilty for all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy Hall will appeal the ruling.
The charges related to publication of a report Cheap Has a High Price in 2013 by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit's pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.
”We are shocked by today's verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stiffle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights,” said Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch.
”This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling,” added Vartiala.
”Thailand's laws that allow for criminal punishment and even imprisonment for defamation are in clear breach of Thailand's international human rights obligations. Instead of allowing companies to take human rights defenders to criminal courts for alleged defamation, Thailand needs to thoroughly follow through on allegations of violations of migrant workers' rights.”
In October 2014, the Prakanong Court in Bangkok dismissed another criminal defamation case brought by Natural Fruit against Andy Hall on the grounds of a flawed prosecution that was in breach of the Thai Criminal Procedure Law. Appeals in this case, submitted by both Natural Fruit and Thailand's Attorney General, are currently being considered by Thailand's Supreme Court after the Appeals Court threw out an initial appeal in September 2015.
In addition to the two criminal cases, Natural Fruit has also filed two civil claims for damages against Andy Hall totalling 400 million baht (approximately 10 million euros). These cases have been but on hold until the corresponding criminal cases have been concluded.
For more information:
Q&A-document, last updated on 12 September 2016, available at: http://www.finnwatch.org/images//AndyHall_QA_September_2016_Eng.pdf
Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director, Finnwatch +358(0)445687465 sonja.vartiala (a) finnwatch.org
Andy Hall, researcher +66(0)846119209 andyjhall1979 (a) gmail.com
Last updated at 8.16am GMT+3 on 20th September