Defamation charges against Hall will chill labor rights in Thailand says Human Rights Watch

April 11, 2013

Proceedings in this case, brought by a fruit processing company before the South Bangkok criminal court, are scheduled for today April 11, 2013. The charges stem from a defamation complaint filed on February 14 by the Natural Fruit Company Limited against Andy Hall for an investigative report about serious labor rights violations at the company’s factory in Prachaub Kirikhan province. If convicted, Hall faces up to two years in prison. He is also facing civil damages of 300 million baht  (US$10 million).“Criminal charges against Andy Hall reflect an attempt to stifle serious reporting on alleged abuses by one of Thailand’s top fruit processors,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Freedom to investigate abuses by corporations is critical to ensure compliance and accountability under Thai law and human rights standards.” The Natural Fruit Company, using a workforce comprised primarily of migrant workers from Burma, asserted that Hall defamed and damaged the company by “broadcasting false statements to public media.”HRW_logo

Hall’s report, “Cheap has a high price: Responsibility problems relating to international private label products and food production in Thailand,” researched and written with the Finnish nongovernmental organization FinnWatch, investigated the production practices of private label juices and fruit sold in Finland, including by Natural Fruit Company Limited. The report alleged that Natural Fruit Company Limited had committed serious labor rights abuses, including poor working conditions, unlawfully low wages, confiscation of workers’ official documents, use of child labor, and excessive overtime. Human Rights Watch, along with an increasing number of states and international authorities, believes that criminal defamation laws should be abolished, as criminal penalties are always disproportionate punishments for reputational harm and infringe on free expression.  Criminal defamation laws are open to easy abuse, resulting in very harsh consequences, including imprisonment. As repeal of criminal defamation laws in an increasing number of countries shows, such laws are not necessary for the purpose of protecting reputations. “The prosecution of Andy Hall strikes at the very core of efforts by human rights defenders to end pervasive abuses of workers in Thailand’s export industry,” Adams said. “International companies sourcing from Thailand should raise concerns with the government that using criminal charges to silence rights critics could adversely affect the overall reputation of Thailand’s major export sectors. The Thai government should welcome efforts to protect worker’s rights, not penalize them.”

via Thailand: Defamation Charges Chill Labor Rights Inquiries | Human Rights Watch.

also: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Company-should-drop-case-against-British-rights-ac-30203542.html

 

One Response to “Defamation charges against Hall will chill labor rights in Thailand says Human Rights Watch”


  1. […] A Thai court found British labor activist, Andy Hall, guilty of defaming a fruit canning company, and gave him a suspended prison sentence in a case that has raised serious concerns among human rights workers and free speech advocates. He was found guilty of criminal defamation against Natural Fruit Company Ltd. in connection with a 2013 report he researched for the Finnish consumer organization Finnwatch that alleged labour abuses at the company’s facilities. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/defamation-charges-against-hall-will-chill-labor-rights-in-…] […]


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