Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015
4
WORKERS RIGHTS ACTIVIST TAKES HIS PLACE IN THE QUEUE OF THE LOST FACE

Following its time immemorial tradition of denial Thailand will decide tomorrow whether workers' right activist Andy Hall should be formally indicted on computer crimes and criminal defamation charges for exposing what has been traditionally been the norm - the abuse of migrant workers by Thai authorities and private contractors.

I say Thailand because invariably in almost all cases Thai institutions, politicians, and private corporations have stood to lose face and/or cash by the simple admission that yes, things have gone wrong which we can arrest.

From the claims of great military victories, to denials of bird flu, mass murder by the military, injudicial executions in a drugs war, killer policemem, false arrests of foreigners for murders committed by Thai nationals, human trafficking, plagiarism by a government executive, slave labour and even sex shows, judges will decide tomorrow whether Andy Hall, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, should stand trial and be branded a criminal for doing his job - protecting migrant workers from exploitation.

What is going on in the Bangkok South Criminal Court in Charoen Krung Road, Bangkok, a mere stone's throw from some of the city's popular riverside hotels contrasts sharply with the country's deserved popular reputation for hospitality and smiley happy people.

Alan and Chutima


But, just as in the case of journalists Chutima Sidasathian and Australian Alan Morison, who are being sued by the Royal Thai Navy,  the owners of National Fruit - the pineapple company which was subject to investigation by Finnwatch, and also the Public Prosecutor both put personal and national pride first.


Is this pride before a fall for Thailand? Unlikely I am afraid. When the country is hurt it makes people suffer. That's a sort of collective decision which is also shared by the Thai media. Andy Hall has had more than his fair share of suffering. It is his turn in the queue. I wish him the best of luck.


The support given by British and Australian Embassies to their country nationals will probably not make the Thais suspicious.

But the Lincolnshire Poacher is of course a famous English folk song which is not complimentary of the likes of gamekeepers and magistrates. Perhaps his supporters could give a rendition after the court's decision.






Statement from Andy Hall


The Bangkok South Criminal Court on Charoen Krung Road in Bangkok (BTS Saphan Taksin) will decide on Monday 24 August whether to indict British migrant rights researcher and activist Andy Hall on computer crimes and criminal defamation charges. The hearing will be held at Courtroom 501 at 9am local time and Andy Hall will attend the court with his lawyers.

The European Union Mission in Thailand has confirmed a delegation of EU, UK, Finnish, Dutch and Danish diplomats will be attending to observe the proceedings on Monday morning.

If the Court decides to indict,  Andy Hall will be summoned to officially face the criminal charges and be detained awaiting trial. He will have an opportunity to seek release on bail.

This case against Andy Hall was brought by a Thai pineapple company, Natural Fruit Company Ltd., following the publication and dissemination of a Finnwatch report 'Cheap has a High Price'. The report, to which Andy Hall contributed research, brought to light labour rights violations at the Natural Fruit pineapple processing plant. To date, no one has been held responsible for the violations at the Natural Fruit plant.

Altogether, Natural Fruit has filed four cases against Andy Hall. These comprise two criminal defamation charges, a criminal charge under the Computer Crimes Act and two civil defamation actions.

Prakanong court already on 29 October last year dismissed the charges on the other criminal defamation case. The Thai Attorney General and Natural Fruit have appealed this decision, urging the court to reopen the case. A decision on the appeal is expected on 25 September 2015.

Andy Hall has a blog at www.andyjhall.wordpress.com where comprehensive information on these cases against him is documented by Finnwatch and Andy Hall.

Examples of recent expressions of support to Andy Hall include:

A letter to the Thai Prime Minister by a global coalition of civil society organisations and trade unions expressing concern over continuing judicial harassment:

http://www.laborrights.org/publications/letter-thai-prime-minister-prayuth-chan-ocha-regarding-prosecution-andy-hall

Business Social Compliance Initiative BSCI asks their participating companies to use their influence and request Natural Fruit to drop the charges:

http://www.bsci-intl.org/news/bsci-and-its-participants-take-action-support-andy-hall

A Walk Free petition calling for the charges to be dropped:

 http://www.walkfree.org/drop-the-charges-against-andy-hall-now/

Human Rights Watch - End Case Against Migrant Worker Activist:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/07/19/thailand-end-case-against-migrant-worker-activist

A member of the European Parliament Merja Kyllönen's Parliamentary Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2015-011798+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=en

4 comments:

  1. If the Court decides to indict, the inherent Domino Effect will set back media transparency in Thailand another 100 years or so - give or take a decade, and I'm runnin' for the hills and having my fingerprints changed, not simultaneously mind you..

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  2. Presumably this company sell their produce in the west. Can some pressure be applied that way?

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  3. Face saving, denial and scape-goating will come way before any form of justice or human rights. Thailand practices a rabid form of xenophobia where anybody taking sides with a foreigner is considered a traitor. This happens if even the Thai is 100% wrong. The feudal system is based on hierarchy. A person of high status can do no wrong and heaven help anybody who says they do. I have little hope for a good outcome here.

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  4. Remember the Colin Vard case. A few months back police were going to solve the case in 30 days. So far we've got zero, a donut. The Koh Tao case has stopped for whatever reason. The Vard case seems like a lock in investigated properly but as I said previously. No Thai wants to be seen taking a foreigners side.

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