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Case dismissed: Andy Hall with a supporter at the Bangkok court today

Defamation Case Dismissed: Andy Hall Team Calls for Thailand to Enforce Worker Rights

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
THE PRAKANONG Court in Bangkok today dismissed defamation charges brought against Andy Hall by Natural Fruit Company Ltd, a pineapple export factory.

Natural Fruit has launched multiple criminal and civil prosecution against the researcher and activist since February 2013 as a result of his contribution to a Finnwatch report published in 2013.

The report revealed serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit's pineapple juice production facilities.

According to the court decision the charge is dismissed due to unlawful interrogation process under section 120 of the criminal procedure code.

''We are relieved and glad that justice has prevailed in this case,'' says Sonja Vartiala, the Executive Director of Finnwatch.

During Andy Hall's trial, the court heard, for instance, a former worker of Natural Fruit who testified that the factory was hiring under aged children and paid unlawfully low salaries to its workers.

''The court hearings were yet another confirmation that, as Finnwatch's report revealed, there are serious problems in working conditions at Natural Fruit. The question that now must be asked is why Thailand's authorities have not taken action against the company however,'' says Vartiala.

The case verdict today, concerning an interview Hall gave to Aljazeeraa on his criminal prosecutions, is just the first of four cases filed against Andy Hall by Natural Fruit.

The second case, a US$10 million civil defamation case, will begin tomorrow at Nakhon Pathom Court.

The third case, computer crimes act and criminal defamation charges, will proceed on November 17 at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court.

Dates for a fourth US$4 million civil case have not yet been confirmed.

If Hall is found guilty of the additional criminal and civil cases, he could face up to seven years in prison and be forced to pay millions of Euros for compensation.

''Finnwatch demands Natural Fruit now drop all the charges against Andy Hall. Instead of allowing companies to bring human rights activists to court, Thailand needs to prosecute companies like Natural Fruit, who are violating labor rights,'' says Vartiala.

Finnwatch and hundreds of other international NGOs regard the court proceedings against Andy Hall as judicial harassment and see that his important and successful work is being seriously hindered by these actions.

Today, international demonstrations will be held in Finland, Netherlands, UK and the United States to support Andy Hall.

FOLLOWING THE VERDICT Hall wrote on twitter: ''I'm delighted at today's court ruling. It's real victory for migrant workers, labor rights, rule of law, freedom of expression in Thailand.''

According to Reuters, a lawyer for Natural Fruit said the firm will appeal today's court decision.

Mr Hall won his passport back from the courts after an application made by the British embassy. However, his travel was recently restricted.

Mr Hall says via Facebook that ''in final comments, Prakanong Court judges ordered immigration block on my travel in/out of Thailand to be removed 'effective immediately.'''

Declaration of Interest: In July next year, Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian face a continuing trial over criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges brought by the Royal Thai Navy, citing a 41-word paragraph from a Pulitzer prize-winning Reuters special report on the Rohingya boatpeople. Reuters and other news organisations in Thailand that published the same paragraph have not been charged. The charges were laid before the military takeover in Thailand.

Comments

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Nice one.Keep up the good work Andy

Posted by rich on October 29, 2014 11:06

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It is impossible to sue someone for more money than they actually own, unless Andy is a secret millionaire.
As for the lack of prosecution against a Thai company, is anyone surprised?
The western companies who buy products from this company should cease immediately.

Posted by Tbs on October 29, 2014 12:22

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Tbs, not impossible but just a waste of time and money to ensure forced bankruptcy, limit the capacity to continue and maybe an agreement for silence.

Posted by Manowar on October 29, 2014 13:25

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Very good

Posted by Sue on October 29, 2014 18:29

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Good and bad comments or articles on media are the barometer of democracy; likewise the value of shares traded in the stock exchanges around the world are going up or down according to good or negative attitudes of the decision-makers in those listed companies.
Good transparency and truth through a good communication between politicians, senior civil servants and the people of a country, are the open door to best success to improve public services and the happiness of its inhabitants.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 29, 2014 21:14

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One down, two to go, then if the Thai authorities change the habits of a lifetime and get the message they will drop their charges against AM and CS. Pigs might fly though before that happens but hope springs eternal!

Posted by Alan on October 30, 2014 15:32

Editor Comment:

Thanks, Alan. I guess the outside-Thailand case is out of the way.

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Small steps, big result! :-)

Posted by Alan on October 30, 2014 19:51


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