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British human rights researcher Andy Hall: Union says Thailand is ''on trial''

Big International Union Warns Thailand is 'On Trial' Over Criminal Defamation

Friday, July 18, 2014
PHUKET: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has described Thailand as being ''on trial'' for allowing a company to prosecute a human rights defender who exposed modern day slavery in its canned fruit and fishing industry.

The ITF is demanding that charges against Andy Hall, a UK citizen who is due to stand trial in September on charges of criminal defamation, be dropped.

The criminal and civil cases were brought against Andy Hall by Thailand's Natural Fruit Company following his research into the company's operations for the report 'Cheap Has a High Price,' published by the Finnwatch NGO (

That report exposed smuggling of migrant workers along with the use of child labor, forced overtime and violence against workers.

ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton stated: ''Andy Hall's investigations into the fruit and fish industries in Thailand helped expose shocking abuses there to a worldwide audience.

''He should be praised, not prosecuted. Thailand's attorney general must act now to disallow this case, which is an example of blatant victimisation of someone for no greater crime than telling an unacceptable truth.''

He continued: ''This legal case attempts to shoot the messenger and leave the true offender untouched. Thailand must address the unforgivable abuses being allowed to take place on its lands and waters, and also ensure the right to freedom of opinion.''

ITF president Paddy Crumlin added: ''Thailand itself is on trial. Its failure to act has rightly led to it being downgraded by the US government over human trafficking.

''If ever a country needed to allow defenders of human rights to identify problems, it's this one.

''This impending trial is a national and international embarrassment and should be called off immediately.''

The ITF believes that Thailand should:

.. Ratify and implement ILO conventions 87 and 98, respecting workers' fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining

.. Ratify and implement ILO Work in Fishing Convention No. 188

.. Ensure that all companies operating in Thailand and benefiting from Thai resources and employment markets work constructively with trade unions and workers' organisations

Andy Hall is detailing the case against him at the website, through which he can be contacted.

Declaration of interest: Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian face a continuing trial in March over criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges brought by the Royal Thai Navy, citing a paragraph from a Pulitzer prize-winning Reuters report on the Rohingya boatpeople.

The actions against Phuketwan and Hall were both mentioned in the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report recently which lowered Thailand's standing to Tier 3, the bottom level.

Around 700 unions representing over 4.5 million transport workers from some 150 countries are members of the ITF. It is one of several Global Union Federations allied with the International Trade Union Confederation.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


One of the underlying reasons I suspect is that the way in which Thailand views foreigners in general. They are tolerated, but not accepted. The laws which exist are perceived as somewhat xenophobic, and constantly remind us that we don't belong in the country. Therefore the last thing they want is a non-Thai interfering with internal issues, and pointing the finger, which they perceive should only be dealt with by Thais. Then of course there is the matter of loss of face, which again to many foreigners is hard to understand. I therefore suspect they are trying to send a clear message to foreigners, come to Thailand sure, but don't interfere with this country otherwise we will throw the book at you.

Posted by reader on July 18, 2014 12:37

Editor Comment:

If you substituted the words ''United States'' for ''Thailand,'' reader, you might begin to understand how foolish your sweeping generalisations are. There is no ''they,'' except in your distorted imagination.


There is an account to receive donations to fund a professional team of lawyers to defend his case.
The response to this fund is very poor, perhaps because it didn't get the publicity it should have.
Andy was very brave in exposing slavery in Thailand and he deserves more credit for his work. Details at:

Posted by Pete on July 18, 2014 13:07


the expression in Thailand don't mess with a others persons rice bowl seems to continue and prevail and this is the response to messing in one.

Posted by slickmelb on July 18, 2014 14:09

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