Posts Tagged ‘economic and social rights’

Andy Hall, British labour labour rights defender, flees Thailand

November 7, 2016

 

British rights activist Andy Hall leaves the Bangkok South Criminal Court
Andy Hall – Image copyright REUTERS

On 7 November 2016, the BBC, Reuters and other media reported that labour rights defender Andy Hall has left Thailand after a three-and-a-half year legal battle with a pineapple processing company accused, in a report he contributed to, of abusing its workforce. The dismissal of one set of charges against the British activist was confirmed by Thailand’s Supreme Court last week. But he was convicted in September on two other counts under sweeping criminal defamation and computer crimes laws and was given a three-year suspended prison sentence. He also faces civil complaints by the pineapple company, Natural Fruit, which is demanding around $12m in damages.

But it was mostly the prospect of further criminal charges over another group of workers he is supporting that persuaded Mr Hall that he should leave Thailand and not returner the time being. He and the 14 migrant workers from Myanmar – who have alleged abusive treatment at the hands of a farm which supplied the big Thai poultry processor, Betagro, with chickens – recently had defamation lawsuits filed against them. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/andy-hall/]

Before he left Thailand Mr Hall told the BBC that he felt that the prospect of having to contest continuous lawsuits filed against him would make it impossible for him to defend migrant workers’ rights effectively. The situation for human rights defenders, he said in a statement made as he prepared to depart, has rapidly deteriorated in Thailand, with significantly increased risks.

The challenge confronting Mr Hall is one faced by many Thai activists as well. Defamation is a criminal charge that can carry a two-year prison sentence, often used alongside the even tougher Computer Crimes Act, which mandates a sentence of up to five years in prison.

  • Two years ago, the editors of a small newsletter, Phuketwan, were prosecuted by the Thai navy for an article in which they quoted a Reuters news agency report alleging Thai military involvement in human trafficking. They were finally acquitted last year, but the effort of defending themselves contributed to the newsletter being shut down.
  • In June this year three prominent human rights defenders were prosecuted under the same two laws by a unit of the Thai military over a report they took part in which alleged the use of torture against military detainees in southern Thailand.

On Thursday 3 November, the U.N. Human Rights office in Bangkok issued a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision. But it also called on the Thai government “to drop charges against all human rights defenders who have been charged with criminal offenses for reporting human rights violations in accordance with its obligations under international human rights law.

On 6 October EU Trade Commissioner Cecilie Malmström had strongly backed the British labour rights activist who helped expose labour abuses in Thailand, for which he received a three-year suspended jail sentence. Andy Hall met Malmström in Strasbourg, where MEPs also passed a strong resolution condemning Hall’s treatment under the military junta now running the country.

Sources:

Thai Supreme Court Dismisses Defamation Claim Against Labor Activist – Malaysia Sun

 Andy Hall, British labour rights activist, flees Thailand – BBC News

Malmström backs EU whistleblower over Thai labour rights

Imran Anjum in Pakistan called a ‘blasphemer’ for caring about brick makers

June 2, 2016

imran_anjum

Imran Anjum is a human rights defender from the city of Sahiwal, Punjab province in Pakistan. He is the Founder and the Executive Director of Peaceful & Active Center for Humanity (PEACH), a non-governmental organisation working on the social and economic development of some of the most disadvantaged communities in Pakistan. Imran Anjum is directly involved in the provision of legal aid to people from these communities and carries out advocacy work on the rights of bonded labourers, including child labourers and brick kiln workers. Currently, PEACH is running a campaign across the Punjab province aimed at raising awareness among brick kiln workers about their rights.

On 20 May 2016, a group of brick kiln owners displayed banners around the city of Gojra, Punjab province, calling human rights defender Mr Imran Anjum ‘a blasphemer‘ and insisting on his execution. These threats follow an attack on 9 May 2016, when Imran Anjum, along with two of his colleagues, was travelling home to Sahiwal from a conference in Gojra devoted to the protection of the rights of brick kiln workers. Two people on motorbikes chased his car, forcibly stopped him, dragged him and his colleagues out of the vehicle and threatened them at gunpoint. They said that they would kill the human rights defender and his colleagues if they did not stop their labour rights work or if they went back to Gojra.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-imran-anjum

Ford Foundation Grants $6 Million to Seven Organizations to Reshape the Global Human Rights Movement

September 24, 2013

On 18 September the Ford Foundation announced $6.25 million in grants to seven leading human rights organizations that will strengthen and diversify the global human rights movement. The 7 grants focus on human rights organizations that operate in numerous countries and international forums, underscoring the foundation’s long commitment to supporting collaboration. Combined with a five-year, $50 million initiative announced last year to support human rights organizations based outside Europe and the United States, Ford is spurring innovative thinking about the way the global human rights system functions and its capacity to address 21st century issues such as economic and social inequality.

The human rights movement has arguably been the most effective and wide-reaching social movement of our time,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “But the movement faces a notably different set of challenges today than it did even 15 years ago, along with a new set of opportunities for advancing human rights in today’s world. The grants we make today will enable these institutions to more actively adapt, diversify and retool the way the movement works for all of us.

The seven grants announced today will support: Read the rest of this entry »