Thai court finds migrant rights activist guilty of defamation
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. –
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.