Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


....just in from Finnwatch

Lawyers representing Andy Hall, a British researcher and labour activist specialising in migrant worker rights, will tomorrow on 31st May at 9:00am (GMT+7hrs) file criminal litigation against Thailand's Office of the Attorney General, nine Thai state prosecution officials and one senior police officer at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Dusit District of Bangkok, Thailand. Hall's lawyers will then proceed to file further criminal litigation at Prakanong Court in Prakanong District of Bangkok against Natural Fruit Company Ltd., a board member with legal authority to act on behalf of the company, a senior company management official and the company's lawyer, altogether four additional persons.

These litigations concern a criminal defamation charge relating to an interview Hall gave to Aljazeera English in Myanmar. The charge was filed against him by Natural Fruit at Bangna Police station in Bangkok in July 2013. The Office of the Attorney General, in the role of investigator of the complaint, assigned the criminal investigation of the case to Bangna police and later recommended the case for prosecution. Following this, prosecution officials prosecuted Hall who was then in May 2014 indicted for a full criminal trial at Prakanong Court.

Hall's passport was confiscated following his indictment during temporarily release on bail pending trial and his freedom of movement overseas was curtailed. Natural Fruit requested to become a joint prosecutor in the case alongside the Office of the Attorney General. In October 2014, following a 6-day trial, Prakanong Court dismissed the prosecution by the Office of the Attorney General and Natural Fruit as unlawful on the grounds of flawed police investigation and interrogation procedures.

Despite the dismissal, judicial harassment against Hall continued as both Natural Fruit and state prosecution officials, as the two case plaintiffs, continued to pursue this case appealing the legality of the dismissal first to the Appeals Court and then onto the Supreme Court. In November 2016, Thailand's Supreme Court delivered its final verdict on the appeals dismissing the case once and for all on both procedural and investigatory grounds. The Supreme Court reasoned that the prosecution was unlawful as the case couldn't lawfully be tried in Thailand's courts given that the nature of the alleged offence and the location where the alleged offence was committed lay outside the country.

"I am launching these litigations consisting of two sets of criminal prosecutions today with a heavy heart and not out of anger or with any desire for revenge. It is regretful that things have reached this stage. However, it is necessary now to launch these litigations as I must defend myself against an unlawful prosecution and judicial harassment waged against me that continues unabated," said Andy Hall from Brussels in Belgium.

"I was encouraged to initiate these litigations by migrant workers whom I continue to support in Thailand. After my criminal conviction, many workers and rights defenders in Thailand and even globally told me they hesitate to voice concerns on exploitation or report fully on abuses due to fear of negative repercussions. It's imperative that these two sets of criminal prosecutions claim space back for victims of rights abuses, exploited workers and human rights defenders to speak out with confidence about unlawful conduct by business and state actors without repercussions,' said Hall.

"I also chose to launch these litigations because of the advice and support provided to me by a committed team of respected human rights lawyers. My legal team and I aim to contribute through these litigations towards reform of the Thai justice system. Such reform through litigation can enhance the rule of law and ensure meaningful accountability for victims of the unlawful and unacceptable abuse of state police investigatory and prosecutorial powers," Hall added.

Andy Hall continues to fight his previous conviction on criminal defamation and computer crimes charges, also initiated by Natural Fruit, in which he was found guilty and handed a suspended 3-year prison sentence in September 2016. This guilty verdict met with wide-ranging international criticism from civil society, trade unions, business enterprises and the UN, ILO and EU. Both Natural Fruit and Hall have appealed the conviction with the company seeking an immediate custodial sentence against Hall and Hall seeking to have the conviction fully overturned.

Another Thai company, Thammakaset Farm, has also filed additional criminal defamation and computer crimes charges against Hall. This escalating harassment, in addition to his September 2016 conviction, forced Hall to leave Thailand after 11 years in November 2016 to live in Europe.

Tomorrow's launch of criminal litigations by Hall coincides with the Thai Prime Minister's launch of Thailand's National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights. NAPs are UN recommended tools for UN Member States to promote the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights within each state.

According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, states must ensure that their "courts are independent of economic or political pressures from other state agents and from business actors, and that the legitimate and peaceful activities of human rights defenders are not obstructed".

In Thailand, statistics on prosecutions under the Computer Crimes Act have exploded in the past two years. According to critics, the provisions in this law have been used by authorities and private companies to silence human rights defenders, journalists and others. Civil society organisations have called for both the repeal of provisions in Thailand's Penal Code that criminalise defamation and for the Computer Crime Act to be amended in compliance with international standards regarding freedom of expression.

Natural Fruit has initiated altogether four criminal and civil prosecutions against Hall stemming from his contribution to the Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price, published in 2013. The report reported serious allegations of human and labour rights violations at Natural Fruit's pineapple juice production facilities.

Although Finnwatch is not involved in the litigations launched by Hall, the organisation continues to support Hall's appeal against his September 2016 conviction. In all proceedings bought by Natural Fruit against Hall, Finnwatch alongside the Thai Tuna Industry Association and Thai Union Group contributed towards his legal fees, fines and bail costs. At his trial hearings, Finnwatch alongside Finnish conglomerate S Group and Thai seafood associations and companies also testified in Hall's defence.

"Andy has been unwavering in his support for the rights of migrant workers in Thailand for over a decade. He has dedicated his life to this work. This ongoing campaign of judicial harassment against him, which has entered its fifth year, has taken a heavy toll and should end," said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch.

"It is the duty of businesses and governments to cease judicial harassment against human rights defenders working on issues of business and human rights. Work done by researchers like Andy on working conditions in global supply chains is valuable also for the companies trading in Thailand," she reminded.


leave Thailand to the Thais said...

Pissing in the wind comes to mind. Suing the Thais would only be possible if the law gave the guilty money

Tarquinius Rex said...

Good on you Andy. Go for it. I particularly like the way you seek "reform of the Thai justice system" through these litigations. Does Thailand even have a serious justice system?
I really hope you win - for lots of reasons. Primarily for the way those people who gave you much grief will suffer - IF you win.
Good luck.

Tarquinius Rex said...

I really hope you win your case(s) Mr. Hall, and that AD continues to keep us apprised of all developments in these legal proceedings.

Trollmeister General said...

Best of luck with your legal battle, Andy. Many of us are rooting for you & hope you take this lot to the cleaners.

Megalodon said...

AD, I wonder if you would expand a little on your statement that the "escalating harassment, in addition to his 2016 conviction, forced Hall to leave Thailand after 11 years in Nov 2016 to live in Europe."
Was Mr. Hall told to leave the country, formally and officially, by the Thai authorities?
Or did he simply decide that due to mounting pressure / harassment from various quarters to which you refer, it was in his best interests, (i.e. on grounds of his own safety), to leave the country?
If the latter - what a dreadful indictment of the lawlessness which pervades Thailand.

the guest said...

I think he should give it a rest, and go back home, its a complete waste of time. Thailand is a lost cause, he has zero chance of getting any justice. He's a foreigner for one, secondly Thailand doesn't respond to finger-pointing from outsiders.

Bob said...

AD would you also like to keep your readers up to date with the legal proceedings regarding the Koh Toa case, as you have been very vociferous about this in the past. Of course, it also involves Andy Hall.

Trollmeister General said...

I don't wish to appear disrespectful in any way, guest, but I rather think you are missing the point here. Firstly, according to AD, Andy Hall is not in Thailand - he is in Belgium.
Not exactly "home" I should imagine, but probably a lot closer to it than Bangkok! Secondly, he HAS to fight this unlawful arrest; this unlawful prosecution, against him - especially since he has such high-powered support.
Thailand MUST be forced to change its ways. It MUST be forced, dragged even - kicking and screaming - into the 21st century.
What was that expression about evil triumphing if good men do nothing...? I'm sure you catch my drift.

D. Farang said...

Here's hoping Andy's lawyer is working on a contingency fee - his perception would therefore be that the case is a veritable "slam dunk.."

Always better to feel that you have the upper hand..

Time will tell. However, in Thailand the only certainty is uncertainty, as what goes down trumps good fiction every minute of the day.

leave Thailand to the Thais said...

Guest. you obviously know how Thailand ticks T.M G. There is no reform in Thailand. There is Thai way and there it ends.
The world thinks Donald Trump is self opinionated and self righteous and try to hammer him down. He doesn't come even close to how Thai authority is not open for business. Unless of course that business crosses the sweaty palms of everyone in authority.Anyone who thinks Thailand can change needs to stop dreaming.

D. Farang said...

"I think he should give it a rest, and go back home, it's a complete waste of time." the guest

That's your perception, hence your reality. If you're so dead certain of your stance - better get in touch with Andy personally - so he doesn't waste his valuable time needlessly..


Dying is easy, Comedy is hard

The RatShit Kid said...

Not quite sure where President Trump comes into the equation, L.T.t.t.T

Trollmeister General said...

AD, nothing whatsoever to do with this case, but a legal matter nonetheless; are you able to inform your readership whatever happened to the 2 American/ Chinese students who badly beat the American guy, (fellow student), over "girlfriend" affairs some couple of years ago?
The girl was Japanese/New Zealander as I recall.

Andrew Drummond said...

I'll get back to you on this one. It was not good

Keith Elphick said...

Having been away from Thailand (Pattaya & Bangkok) for a few years now, I simply cannot understand why Foreigners still believe they can take on the Thai Legal system and win.
Thailand exists for Foreigners for two reasons only:
1. As a holiday destination.
2. A a revenue source.

The RatShit Kid said...

A somewhat defeatist attitude, if you don't mind me saying Keith. If Thailand wishes to stand alongside first world countries where the rule of law applies, then the country must conduct a total, branch and root reform of its judicial system.
If it takes strong-minded and gutsy foreigners like Mr. Hall and his supporters to initiate or bring about this reform, good luck to them.
Injustices must be fought, and it would seem from even a cursory reading of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Hall's case that there have been a considerable number of injustices committed here.

Marlo Stanfield said...

To the uninitiated reading some of these comments, it would appear that only a foreigner can take on the might of the establishment. No Thai has ever tried, it would seem. They're far too afraid of reprisal - only the great white farang can challenge the status quo.

What a load of bollocks!

Andrew Drummond said...

So you have taken on the establishment and won Marlo?

D. Farang said...

Marlo, with all due respect - when ordinary Thais challenge the "status quo," they frequently disappear without a trace, that - or their bodies are eventually found. It's ALMOST a socially acceptable and accepted form of Russian Roulette..

My wife went to a large University in Bangkok in the early 1990's, and noted that at that time - several activist student demonstrators fighting against the "status quo" suffered a similar fate - execution. Hence you develop the intrinsic reluctance to speak out in the LOS - for all but the bravest-foolhardy, and this farang respects that part of the barely-hidden curriculum. Shhhh..

Tarquinius Rex said...

I think you are being somewhat unfair here, Marlo. Only last month Hong Kong's South China Morning Post carried an article on 10 Thai citizens who have taken on the Thai Government of late, with regard to human rights abuses and use of draconian laws to "silence" Thai citizens.
These people were / are politicians, (perhaps former); students; businessmen and women - ordinary people.
If you have the SCMP app - easy to check.
AD's piece is about Mr. Hall and his supporters taking on the Thai establishment - hence the emphasis on foreigners by posters here.

Marlo Stanfield said...

Well, considering half my posts can't get through your bullshit censorship, AD, I think it's particularly galling that you portray yourself as some sort of free speech martyr.

Trollmeister General said...

I think you will find that some Thais have taken on the establishment, Marlo.
But let's be quite clear on this point. AD's article is about Andy Hall (and his supporters) taking on certain organisations - not about Thais fighting human rights abuses or perceived draconian legislation in Thailand.

Trollmeister General said...

I'm not sure why AD is censoring this comment so much, but I will persevere.
I think there are plenty of examples of Thai citizens taking on the might of the establishment, Marlo.
Hardly necessary to detail them here, of course.
Very simple research will reveal their identity.
Obviously if you are being sarcastic...that's a different issue. No need for sarcasm though, I would suggest.

Andrew Drummond said...

Can't remember censoring anything so harmless. I would be interested if you could quote some success stories.

Trollmeister General said...

Not too sure how many Thais have taken on the establishment and WON, AD, but that's not the point.
Marlo has made the point that in his view, it is only foreigners who have dared to take on the Thai establishment.
My riposte is that there have been plenty of Thai citizens who have done so; whether they have won or not is a separate issue.

Marlo Stanfield said...

My point was that Thais HAVE taken on the establishment but AD is trying to make out that Andy Hall is doing something that's never been attempted by any Thai.

If one derives all their knowledge about goings on in Thailand from mickey mouse blogs and the likes of Coconuts or Stickboy, then he/she can be forgiven for thinking that but it's most certainly not the case.

Oh and thanks for proving your cowardice, AD. You censored a perfectly good post here and on the Danish gangster article for no other reason that they both invited your readers to see past your annoying and insidious penchant for embellishment and misdirection.

The RatShit Kid said...

AD - " I'll get back to you on this one."
(Ref beating up of American kid by 2 x Chinese-American punks in Thai nightclub).
Any development? Will that be subject of separate post?