Human rights activist Andy Hall’s most serious trial – for computer crimes and criminal defamation – starts today, with the first preliminary hearing in the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court. The commencement of this second criminal case prosecution comes less than three weeks after the Prakanong Court dismissed less serious defamation charges on the basis of unlawful investigation process on 29 October 2014.
If Andy Hall is found guilty of the latest criminal charges, he could face up to seven years in prison. This is in addition to a possible sentence of up to one year in prison for the Prakanong Court criminal case, which is currently under appeal, as well as two civil cases where the claimant – Thai pineapple producer Natural Fruit – is claiming $14 million in damages.
Fairfood, together with hundreds of other international NGOs and labour unions, sees the court proceedings against Andy Hall as a typical SLAPP suit that tries to inhibit Hall and other human rights defenders from exposing labour and human rights violations in Thai exporting industries. During an International Day of Action, on the day of the first trial on 29 October, we asked the Thai Government to drop all charges against Hall. We further asked them to investigate the serious breaches of human and workers’ rights within Thai food and beverage companies.
We will keep asking the Thai Government to drop the cases and investigate the reported breaches of workers’ rights at Natural Fruit. The court hearings in the Prakanong Court were yet another confirmation that there are still major concerns regarding working conditions at Natural Fruit. A former worker who testified as a witness filed police and embassy/government complaints due to threats he received.
For more information on the cases against Andy Hall, visit: https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/.