Andy Hall found guilty by Thai court

Editor's Choice More News Most Read Today's Headline
Andy Hall found guilty by Thai court

After more than 3.5 years of legal battles, Briton Andy Hall has been found guilty of defamation over his investigation into alleged human rights abuses at Thai pineapple processor Natural Fruit Company.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court today gave Hall a suspended three-year prison sentence which the human rights defender will appeal, and ordered him to pay a 150,000 baht (US$4,308) fine. andy-hall-finnwatch

The sentence has been suspended for two years, and if Hall does not commit a crime in that period he will not have to serve the sentence.

Hall was found guilty on all charges in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act case relating to the publication of 'Cheap Has a High Price' by Finnwatch, which accepts responsibility for the report.

"We are shocked by today's verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it," said the NGO's executive director Sonja Vartiala.

"Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stiffle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.

"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."

Vartiala said 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," she said.

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 (US$11.5 million). These cases have been but on hold until the corresponding criminal cases have been concluded.

Subscribe to our newsletter