The Interfaith Network for the Rights of Migrants (INFORM), a regional aggrupation of faith-based migrant advocacy organizations in the Asia Pacific, views with grave concern the recent cases filed by the Thailand-based Natural Fruit Company Ltd. against Finnwatch researcher and INFORM member Andy Hall.
Mr. Hall has been known quite well as a staunch migrant rights defender in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Myanmar, where he voluntarily advises and assists the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN). Upon the invitation of INFORM, he became a member of the network to share the experiences of the Burmese Buddhist community in migrant rights advocacy.
The recent court cases filed against Mr. Hall stems from his role in conducting interviews with migrants from Myanmar to assist Finnwatch compile a report in 2013 and 2014, outlining the poor labour conditions in Natural Fruit’s factory. The company sells pineapple concentrate to Finnish supermarkets.
Natural Fruit has raised four charges personally against Andy Hall. Two criminal charges relate to defamation and breach of the computer crimes act and are pending summons delivery in the criminal court. A third charge relates to civil defamation. The case discussed today in Bangna Police station was the latest and fourth charge against him, also of criminal defamation.
If found guilty of these criminal charges, Andy Hall could face seven years in prison per count. Natural Fruit is also claiming seven million Euros in damages from Andy Hall in the civil case against him. Mr. Hall has declared that he will voluntary take part to all judicial hearings, as he has done nothing wrong. He also expressed hope that the ongoing legal process will serve to shed further light on the systematic labour rights abuses in Thai exporting industries.
INFORM views this spate of charges filed by Natural Fruit as harassment cases against a migrant rights defender, and urges all of its network members to campaign for the dropping of these charges. It is very clear that Mr. Hall’s work for migrants in Thailand has been very effective, and that these cases are part of attempts by the country’s migrant-dependent companies to silence his advocacy.
We also take this occasion to commend Mr. Hall for his exemplary and dedicated work among migrant workers in Southeast Asia, which serves as a fine example of INFORM’s concept of a faith-based quest for social justice among the poor and oppressed in society. The network will do everything it can to ensure that our colleague is cleared of any wrongdoing, and will be disencumbered in working with us for the rights of all migrant workers.#
Drop all charges against Andy Hall!
Stop the harassment of migrant rights defenders!
End modern-day slavery in Thailand!