have agreed to back British activist Andy Hall by guaranteeing his bail if the Attorney General proceeds with charges against him.
Hall will be escorted from Bangna Police station tomorrow to the Department of the
The following is a statement issued by Finnwatch
On Wed. 18th June at 9am, British migrant rights activist Andy Hall,
who campaigns to improve conditions for migrant workers in Thailand,
will be escorted from Bangna police station, Bangna district, Bangkok
by police officers to meet officials at the Department of the Attorney General,
to learn the public prosecutor’s decision
whether the latest criminal charges filed against him by Natural Fruit
Co. Ltd. will be ordered prosecuted at Prakanong district court.
Meanwhile, Thailand's 2 leading seafood associations, the Thai Frozen
Foods Association (TFFA) and Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA),
have agreed to back Hall by guaranteeing his bail sureties so as to
confirm the associations policies to support the work of human rights
activists who carefully investigate rights abuses for the benefit of
Hall recently requested the Thai food export industry to bail
him out if the Public Prosecutor orders the latest case
Natural Fruit filed against him to be prosecuted in court and the
court detains him during consideration of the case.
Hall's rationale in his request to industry to bail him out was to
enable association members to publicly support the fight using justice
mechanisms of a migrant rights activist against companies suspected of
labour rights violations.
– 'Finnwatch is delighted by the decision of TFFA and TTIA to
guarantee bail for Hall so as to acknowledge his important work on
migrant rights protection in Thailand', says Finnwatch Executive
Director Sonja Vartiala.
- Dr Chanintr Chalisarapong, President of TTIA said 'TTIA and TFFA are
committed in our ethical standard policy to work with responsible NGOs
like Finnwatch based on good faith and transparency.
We shall support and assist the Finnwatch team in Thailand being able to work
independently and efficiently with the objective to enhance and
improve the migrant labour conditions in the tuna and shrimp industry
Natural Fruit Co. Ltd., a company based in Prachuap Khiri Khan
Province of Thailand, began a series of civil and criminal
prosecutions against Andy Hall in February 2013.
Charges relate to hisrole in conducting interviews with migrants from Myanmar working inthe pineapple and tuna export industry to assist Finnwatch to compile
a report, Cheap Has a High Price. This report, released in Jan 2013
and updated in Jan 2014, outlined particularly poor labour conditions
in Natural Fruit's factory, selling pineapple concentrate to Finnish
– 'Finnwatch awaits the public prosecutor’s decision this week with
concern. Hall explained he will again request for the Public
Prosecutor to not further proceed with the charges against him. But
should the prosecutor disagree, he may well face court the same day
and be detained pending the courts approval of his temporary release
during a trial', says Vartiala.
Legal action against Hall has raised international criticism. In
addition to Finnwatch, numerous NGOs and global union federations have
condemned the harassment. 5 UN Special Rapporteurs have sought
clarifications amidst concern Hall is being targeted for his work to
promote migrant rights.
– 'Hall told us he will voluntary take part in all judicial processes.
He has done nothing wrong and hopes his case will shed only further
light on systematic migrant rights abuses in Thailand', says Vartiala.
Hall was questioned last month at Bangna police station by officials
investigating Natural Fruit's latest and third criminal charge against
him, criminal defamation, relating to an interview he gave in Myanmar
to Aljazeera in early 2013. Previously in Sept. 2013, an officer at
Bangna police station attempted to get Hall to sign a Thai language
document stating he accepted guilt to all the accusations.
A translator was arranged that was not certified by the Ministry of
Justice and translation offered was poor. Hall refused to sign the
document, requested an unused copy that was not part of the case files
for keeping and left the police station. Following this, his treatment
was raised with the Thai Government by the British Ambassador.
Last month, a certified Ministry of Justice translator was organised by
police during questioning but information surfaced lawyers for Natural
Fruit had contacted this translator in advance of the appointment.
Together Natural Fruit has raised 4 charges against Hall.
The initial 2 criminal charges relate to defamation by publication/propogation
under the Thai Criminal Code and breach of the Computer Crimes Act,
for which initial hearings have begun but the case awaits summons
delivery confirmation by the Bangkok South Criminal Court.
A third charge relates to civil defamation. The latest and fourth charge
against Hall, Natural Fruit Company Ltd. filed additional criminal
charges against Hall at Bangna Police Station for criminal defamation.
If found guilty of criminal charges laid against him at Bangkok South
Criminal Court, Hall could face together seven years in prison per
count. Natural Fruit are also claiming 300 million baht ($10 million)
in damages from Hall in the civil case filed at Nakhon Pathom Civil
Court. The latest charges at Bangna Police Station carry a maximum
sentence of one years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding 20, 000
Serious problems in Natural Fruit's labour conditions have been
highlighted in several other reports and research as well as the
Finnwatch report, to which Hall assisted initially. According to
Finnwatch's information, Thai authorities have not raised any legal
actions against Natural Fruit.