Thai court finds mi­grant rights ac­tivist guilty of defama­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page -

A Myan­mar mi­grant worker holds up a sign in sup­port of Bri­tish labour ac­tivist Andy Hall out­side the Bangkok South Crim­i­nal Court yes­ter­day. The judge or­dered a three-year sus­pended prison sen­tence in con­nec­tion to a re­port Mr Hall con­trib­uted, which ex­posed abuses in Thai­land’s lu­cra­tive fruit in­dus­try.

A BRI­TISH ac­tivist found guilty of crim­i­nal defama­tion and breach­ing Thai­land’s strict com­puter laws was given a three-year sus­pended sen­tence over a re­port on labour abuses in the king­dom’s lu­cra­tive fruit sec­tor, his lawyer said yes­ter­day.

Andy Hall, who lives in Thai­land, has faced a cas­cade of le­gal ac­tions for co-au­thor­ing a 2013 re­port on the Natural Fruit fac­tory in the south of the coun­try, al­leg­ing poor work­ing con­di­tions, low wages and child labour.

Natural Fruit, a ma­jor sup­plier to the Euro­pean drink mar­ket, brought the ac­tion against Mr Hall.

“He was found guilty of defama­tion and un­der the com­puter crime act. The court sen­tenced him to four years in jail, re­duced to three,” his lawyer Nakhon Chom­phuchat told AFP af­ter the ver­dict, adding the sen­tence was sus­pended.

Rights groups say crim­i­nal defama­tion and com­puter mis­use laws are rou­tinely used to sti­fle in­ves­tiga­tive work and dis­sent.

The contentious re­port – “Cheap Has a High Price” – was pub­lished by the Fin­nish civil rights group Fin­nwatch.

It heaped pres­sure on Thai­land’s food in­dus­try, which has faced al­le­ga­tions of mis­treat­ment of its mainly mi­grant labour force for sev­eral years. –

PHOTO: AFP

Photo: AFP

Bri­tish mi­grant rights de­fender Andy Hall speaks to the me­dia at the Bangkok South Crim­i­nal Court yes­ter­day af­ter the ver­dict was an­nounced on a case brought against him by Natural Fruit Com­pany Ltd for crim­i­nal defama­tion.

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