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Andy Hall with migrant workers on Phuket earlier this year

Big Union Backs Andy Hall in Criminal Defamation Case to Silence Criticism

Thursday, September 4, 2014
THE INTERNATIONALTransport Workers' Federation (ITF) has condemned the trial of a British human rights defender Andy Hall, which opened in Thailand on Tuesday, as a clear example of victimisation and cover up.

Andy Hall is facing criminal and civil cases of criminal defamation, which have been brought against him by Thailand's Natural Fruit Company following his research into the company for the report 'Cheap Has a High Price,' published by the Finnwatch NGO.

The report exposed smuggling of migrant workers along with the use of child labor, forced overtime and violence against workers. The ITF has stated that Thailand itself is on trial over these abuses.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: ''This trial is indefensible and should be halted immediately. Thailand should be acting against the appalling treatment of workers and for freedom of opinion, not victimising one of the people who rightly brought this awful state of affairs to wider attention.''

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton today appealed directly to the Thai Pineapple Association to disassociate itself from the case brought by its member company against Andy Hall. He told the association:

''Mr Hall's investigations into the fruit and fish industries in Thailand helped expose shocking abuses there to a worldwide audience. Therefore, this matter has now become of relevance to constituents across global food supply chains and international civil society at large.

''The ITF believes that the prosecution of Mr Hall is a misuse of the law to punish public interest whistle-blowing.

''We urge you once again to use your good offices to persuade the Natural Fruit Company and its CEO to withdraw the charges and enter into constructive dialogue with Thai unions and workers' rights defenders to address the serious allegations raised by Mr Hall.''

Andy Hall is detailing the case against him at the websitehttp://andyjhall.wordpress.com, through which he can be contacted, as well as via the @atomicalandy twitter account.

His case has attracted widespread support from across the trade union movement, including the IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural and Hospitality Workers), which is partnered with the ITF in the Catcher to counter initiative, and a spectrum of trade unions, union organisations and NGOs.

Comments

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This case against Andy Hall is made by an offended business man prominent in politics and society It is done with the support of one and only one business organisation, the pineapple producers, while other such organisations in the tuna and seafood industry accept credible research and another company in this research by Andy Hall for Finnwatch.
This case of defamation is a test of the credibility of the Government's efforts to counter abuse of workers, e.g. migrants and e.g. the trafficking in the seafood fishing industry, in particular but not only.
It seems the business man himself has understood that he is the one causing harm to the company and the entire food export industry. If companies are allowed to pursue such cases of defamation and criminal use of computer based information against anyone who is doing a professional research on working conditions, the international community cannot trust future reports of improvements. Recently I learned from a newspaper that a Labor officer interviewed workers directly on a fishing boat about their conditions of work, and that in the presence or at least to the knowledge of the captain or boat owner. Anyone knows that if you ask people about their situation under such conditions no worker will complain. Such a method was used by a researcher at the Chulalongkorn on behalf of the authorities or a company and of course it proved that all was well at the factory. If that is the contribution of the academic people to professionalism any research that shows improvements in the future will not be taken seriously and seen as credible by the international community. The government must throw out the case to protect its professional credibility and seriousness in dealing with abuse of workers and in particular slavery of more vulnerable groups such as migrants.

Posted by Bo Jonsson on September 4, 2014 08:44

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@ Bo Jonsson: I agree with what you say, but you have to realise that criminal defamation is a euphemism for saving face,this is the number 1 reason such cases attract interest from around the world.

Posted by Pete on September 4, 2014 09:30

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Pete, this is a small case about Natural Fruit doing what so many others do without thinking it is against the law. The company itslef made it a huge matter. Other company managers save face by simply saying, what is wrong we will rectify. The claimant being offended has according to newspaper reports from the court proceedings on 2nd September offered Hall to make an apology to drop the charges. many companies want to get rid of criticism. The government should take this seriously the company's insistence on defamation etc is tarnishing Thailand's international reputation

Posted by Bo Jonsson on September 4, 2014 11:02


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