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Court Indicts Rights Defender on Criminal Defamation Charges

Monday, August 24, 2015
BANGKOK; The Bangkok South Criminal Court decided today to indict migrants' rights researcher and human rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act case filed against him by a pineapple processing company, Natural Fruit Company Ltd.

''The Bangkok South Criminal Court had an opportunity to put an end to a saga of intimidation already lasting 30-months aimed at nothing but gagging a human rights defender,'' said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch.

''Regrettably the Court chose instead to press on with a trial of these unfounded charges.''

Natural Fruit has filed altogether four cases against Andy Hall following the publication and dissemination of a Finnwatch report 'Cheap Has a High Price' in early 2013.

The report, which Andy Hall contributed research to, was based on information gathered through interviews with the workers of a Natural Fruit Company Ltd. pineapple processing factory and exposed labor rights violations at the plant.

Natural Fruit did not comment on the research findings prior to the publication of the report, although given ample opportunity to do so.

The criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act case, to which today's decision to indict relates to, is the most severe of all the cases filed against Andy Hall, and carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Court ordered defendant Andy Hall to appear to plead on October 19. He will then face detention, official charging and can request bail.

''To equate someone's reputation with another person's liberty is always disproportionate. Thailand should abolish its criminal defamation laws as they infringe on freedom of expression,'' said Vartiala.

''At this point, the prospects for Andy Hall to receive a fair trial are looking grim,'' she added.

Of the other three cases, one is for criminal defamation and the other two are civil defamation cases where damages of 400,000,000 baht are being claimed by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.

Prakanong Court heard the first criminal defamation case already in 2014. The hearings were marred with the prosecution's failure to make full disclosure to the defence of all evidence available to them, Thai authorities' failure to provide critically important information to the defence when requested and witness intimidation among other issues.

Subsequently, the Prakanong Court dismissed the charges. The Office of the Attorney General has appealed the decision, urging the case to be reopened.

A decision on this appeal is expected on September 25.

The hearings for the civil defamation cases have not been scheduled.

To date no one has been held accountable for the labor rights violations at the Natural Fruit pineapple processing plant.

Declaration of Interest

A verdict is due on September 1 in the criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act action against Phuketwan journalists Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison. The pair are being sued by the Royal Thai Navy over a 41-word paragraph republished from a Reuters series on Burma's Rohingya boatpeople. The series won a Pulitzer Prize.

The Royal Thai Navy's precedent-setting military-versus-media action predates last May's Army takeover in Thailand. Maximum penalty for Morison and Khun Chutima is seven years' jail.

The journalists remain on bail of 100,000 baht each, provided by the Andaman Community Rights and Legal Aid Centre, based in Trang province. Other groups and organisations have also offered financial help.

Most of the legal costs of the case are being met by the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative.

In Thailand, a group of more than 10 lawyers have teamed up to provide legal counsel. They include the Human Rights Lawyers' Association, iLaw and SR Law.

WATCH Journey into Hell, by Four Corners
From Burma through Thailand, an award-winning current affairs team traces official complicity in the brutal treatment of the Rohingya and Phuketwan's part in its exposure.
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/06/22/4257490.htm

WATCH How Trafficking Works
Phuketwan Investigative reporter Chutima Sidasathian says of traficking in 2014: ''It's worse and worse, day by day. Nobody cares''.
http://journeyman.tv/67116/short-films/rohingya-hd.html

LISTEN The Rohingya Solution
A tragedy almost beyond words has been unfolding in Thailand, where a human smuggling network is thriving with the full knowledge of some corrupt law enforcement officers. Alan Morison of Phuketwan talks to Australia's AM program.
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4231108.htm

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Another day of shame

Posted by Ian Yarwood on August 24, 2015 10:48

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Don't forget to pack your toothbrush next week moro, looks like you'll be needing it.

Posted by Mal on August 24, 2015 11:06

Editor Comment:

Never trust anything a malicious malcontent says, mal. Sadly, the real world is blighted by the cowardly comments of online clowns these days. They know no shame. Fortunately, everybody sees them for what they are: no-hopers living with the burden of their own deceptions.

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Dear Ed

I see that the faceless invertebrates spring to life on this website whenever a person of character encounters an obstacle. Are the lives of your trolls really so empty and meaningless that they make toothbrush comments?

Cheers

Posted by Ian Yarwood on August 24, 2015 11:36

Editor Comment:

Oh, I think the lives of PW trolls are about as empty and meaningless as it's possible to get, Ian.

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Alan,
It is comforting that your readers take the time and obviously care enough to consider your dental care requirements amongst all the confusion.

Posted by MoW on August 24, 2015 11:37

Editor Comment:

Indeed. I actually do have a toothache. But Mal and his malicious mates are just a pain in the butt.

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They prosecute this case but the policeman who illegally took a gun on a plane has his case disappear into the ether. Face saving must come first in Thailand.

Posted by Arun Muruga on August 24, 2015 12:33

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It is mind boggling to see the Thai on the one hand take priority in saving face in most any random situation they can, where on the other they fear no shame prosecuting cases like these with the whole free world watching.

Posted by Pink Glasses on August 24, 2015 13:51

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@ Arun Muruga. Face saving, and interests of thai people always come first in Thailand. The foreigner is secondary. That is how it is.

Posted by Kurt on August 24, 2015 14:04

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Why hasn't a boycott of all Natural Fruit Company products been organised by these champions of freedom?
Hit them where it hurts. In the pocket.

Posted by Sir Burr on August 24, 2015 14:06

Editor Comment:

A boycott would be a last resort, Sir Burr. Much better to let justice work.

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Hi Ed

It should be remembered that Andy Hall has not been found guilty of any offence just yet.

Indeed, if the Prakanong Court had not simply dismissed the first defamation case on a technicality but gone on to make findings of fact based on the evidence, Andy would have also had the defamation charges dismissed based on the merits of the case - or the lack of merit as the case may be.

All the cases against Andy are clumsy and misconceived. The bring no credit to Thailand or the Thai Natural Fruit Co but just put a great spotlight on labor practices within Thailand.

Ian Yarwood
Barrister & Solicitor
Perth, Western Australia

Posted by Ian Yarwood on August 24, 2015 15:35

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Dear Mr Yarwood; Sir, you do realise ,of course that moro has the control of what is published and what is not.This is the master manipulator at work, picking out one, now and again of the hundreds of non supportive comments he receives and publishes it to gather comments of support from his small group of, at times , very naive believers..Sadly,you are being used, Mr Yarwood.

Posted by Mal on August 24, 2015 15:44

Editor Comment:

Mal, you are 100 times loonier than I thought. You and bad-mouthing James are the insignificant minority of troll creeps.

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It is mainly due to the few people with intellectual disabilities, such as Mal, with their moronic comments that I ceased my input to the comment section a few months back. By publishing such tripe relegates PW to the likes of ThaiVisa.

To get back on track the Andy Hall cases have a great similarity to your own wherein Andy was not the publisher of 'Cheap Has a High Price' nor was he the sole author, but one of four. Such insane prosecutions alert rights organisations the world over and demean the word justice in Thailand. As said everyday on Al Jazeera 'Journalism is not a crime'.

Posted by Pete on August 24, 2015 16:51

Editor Comment:

Welcome back, Pete.

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Dear Mal. Mal, Mal, Mal.

Now what can I say to a paragon of logic such as you?

Yes, I do realise that as editor Alan Morison can control what is published. My own view is that he publishes too many foolish comments from the trolls, many of whom indicate that they have been offended by criticisms of their previous comments.

If one gets offended Mal, there is a tendency to drop about 50 IQ points. Few of us can afford to lose that many. I know that I can't.

No Mal, no one is using me. Sorry to disagree with you.

Anyway, if Alan has upset you in some way I do hope that you get over it soon and regain the composure that you must have once had.

Cheers

Posted by Ian Yarwood on August 24, 2015 17:03

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hahahaa you are so easy to wind up morisen..what a pratt you are..The truth really hurts you though huh.

Posted by Mal on August 24, 2015 18:15

Editor Comment:

The truth never hurts those who are on the right side of it, Mal. You clearly know nothing about truth. Byeeee.

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Thailand (ex Siam) Thailand - please please please enter the 21st century & stop persecuting the truth! Don't you know the world is watching & laughing at you?

Posted by Logic on August 24, 2015 21:38


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