Seven years in Thai dictatorship’s prison for helping slave workers?

This video is a 2011 documentary on workers in Thailand.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Brit faces jail for aid to organising Thais

Tuesday 19th January 2016

Union activist blighted by ‘judicial harassment’

A BRITISH activist campaigning for the rights of migrant workers in Thailand appeared in court yesterday charged with defamation and computer crimes in a case blighted by bosses’ “judicial harassment.”

Andy Hall faces seven years in prison for his research for a report into a Thai pineapple-canning factory’s alleged enslavement and abuse of workers from neighbouring Cambodia and Myanmar.

Employer Natural Fruit, which denies the allegations, is accused of attempting to derail his defence by threatening civil damages of 400 million baht (nearly £8m) and hefty court fees.

Company chief executive Wirat Piyapornpaiboon is the elder brother of former labour minister and former Democratic Party general secretary Chalermchai Sri-On.

In spite of its ‘democratic’ sounding name, the Democrat Party in Thailand, according to Wikipedia:

upholds a conservative and pro-dictatorship position.

They, eg, support draconic ‘lèse-majesté’ punishment for everyone, really or allegedly, criticizing the royal family, or even the king’s dog.

The Lamiat Sabin article continues:

Mr Hall will endure a second trial over the 2013 report Cheap Has a High Price written by Finnwatch, a Finnish NGO, after a previous case was thrown out by a Thai court on a technicality.

The company has filed four cases against him and is appealing against the dismissal of the first. After being charged during yesterday’s hearing, Mr Hall said: “I only collected raw data and took no part in analysing the data. Finnwatch officials were responsible for that.

“They also put the report on the website, not me.” Mr Hall works as an adviser to SERC, the Thai equivalent to the TUC. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If modern slavery is to be eradicated from global supply chains, unions and campaigners must have the right to speak out.

“The number of court appearances Andy Hall has had to make — in none of which he has been found to have broken any laws — show that this is nothing more than judicial harassment.

“Thailand’s attorney general should be ashamed of helping bad bosses keep up their appalling practices, and the Thai government should be cracking down on slavery and trafficking, not on human rights defenders and trade unions.”

Bangkok South Criminal Court confiscated his passport on Thursday — the British embassy is demanding its return — and has set bail at £5,000, which was paid by Finnwatch, the Thai Frozen Foods Association and the Thai Tuna Industry Association.

Labour MEP Glenis Willmott — who represents the East Midlands, where Mr Hall’s parents live — has campaigned strongly to convince European Commission representatives to attend the court hearing.

The trial will start in May and is expected to conclude in late July.

9 thoughts on “Seven years in Thai dictatorship’s prison for helping slave workers?

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  3. Wednesday 21st September 2016

    posted by Morning Star in World

    by Our Foreign Desk

    A BRITISH labour campaigner received a suspended sentence and fine yesterday for defaming a fruit firm that he accused of enslaving workers.

    The Bangkok South Criminal Court found Andy Hall guilty of criminal defamation against Natural Fruit Company in connection with a 2013 report that he researched for Finnish corporate responsibility campaign group Finnwatch.

    The report alleged the Thai pineapple-canning factory enslaved and abused migrant workers from neighbouring Cambodia and Myanmar.

    He was also found guilty of violating the Computer Crimes Act because the report was posted on the internet.

    Mr Hall was given a three-year suspended sentence and a 150,000 baht (£3,300) fine, which he paid immediately to secure his release.

    The sentence was reduced from four years and 200,000 baht (£4,400) in the recognition of his co-operation with the proceedings and absence of any previous criminal convictions.

    Two civil lawsuits by the company against him are pending, as is an appeal against his acquittal on an earlier criminal defamation charge.

    “I don’t feel any shame, I don’t feel any regret, but I feel it is an injustice, what’s happened here today,” Mr Hall told reporters.

    “I respect the decision of the court, but I feel real injustice, not for me. It was never about Andy Hall doing research about migrant workers. It was about a human rights activist doing research for the public interest.”

    Finnwatch executive director Sonja Vartiala said her organisation was “shocked by today’s verdict.”

    She added: “The report was authored and published by Finnwatch. We take full responsibility for it.

    “Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.”


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