January 19, 2022

Breaking: Shock Andy Hall verdict

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screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-1-47-23-pmBy Zoe Birchall, From Walk Free<team

In a shocking blow against justice today, courts in Thailand found activist Andy Hall guilty of ‘computer crimes’ and ‘criminal defamation’.

 Andy has been given a three year suspended sentence and fined 150,000 Thai Baht ($4,300; £3,300).[1]

 Following the verdict, Andy stated to the press that it “shows people are not free or at liberty to do this kind of research”.[2] 

Andy has been fighting claims made against him by Thai company, Natural Fruit, for over four years. This followed the company’s decision to target him for interviewing migrant workers from their pineapple factory. Andy was contracted by Finnish organisation, Finnwatch, to carry out the interviews, and in its corresponding report, Finnwatch claimed Natural Fruit ‘grossly violated’ the basic rights of its workers.[3] However, Natural Fruit went after an easy target: Andy.

“Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights” said Finnwatch Executive Director Sonja Vartiala.[4]

Despite almost 300,000 actions taken by Walk Free supporters, as well as pressure placed on the Thai government by others in the international community, this verdict shows that in Thailand a company’s reputation is more important than speaking out about the rights of migrant workers to be free from exploitation and modern slavery. 

We are not sitting quietly and letting this matter drop. We are working with our partners around the world to figure out the best way to support Andy as he fights this decision through the appeals process. We will let you know as soon as we have established the best way that you can help ensure human rights defenders in Thailand like Andy can continue their valuable work.

In solidarity,

 Zoe, Joanna, Eugenia and the Walk Free team

British migrant rights defender Andy Hall found guilty in a shock ruling by Bangkok court

From Finnwatch

Bangkok South Criminal Court today announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.

The Court found Andy Hall guilty for all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy Hall will appeal the ruling.

The charges related to publication of a report Cheap Has a High Price in 2013 by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at

Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.

“We are shocked by today’s verdict. 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,” said Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch.

“This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling,” added Vartiala.

“Thailand’s laws that allow for criminal punishment and even imprisonment for defamation are in clear breach of Thailand’s international human rights obligations. Instead of allowing companies to take human rights defenders to criminal courts for alleged defamation, Thailand needs to thoroughly follow through on allegations of violations of migrant workers’ rights.”

In October 2014, the Prakanong Court in Bangkok dismissed another criminal defamation case brought by Natural Fruit against Andy Hall on the grounds of a flawed prosecution that was in breach of the Thai Criminal Procedure Law. Appeals in this case, submitted by both Natural Fruit and

Thailand’s Attorney General, are currently being considered by Thailand’s Supreme Court after the

Appeals Court threw out an initial appeal in September 2015.

In addition to the two criminal cases, Natural Fruit has also filed two civil claims for damages against Andy Hall totalling 400 million baht (approximately 10 million euros). These cases have been put on hold until the corresponding criminal cases have been concluded.

For more information:

Q&A-document, last updated on 12 September 2016, available at:

http://www.finnwatch.org/images//AndyHall_QA_September_2016_Eng.pdf

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