Thailand: Ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Andy Hall, a migrant labour rights researcher

14/01/2016
Urgent Appeal
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New information
THA 003 / 0815 / OBS 067.2
Temporary bail / Judicial harassment /
Restrictions to freedom of movement
Thailand
January 14, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Andy Hall, a migrant labour rights researcher.

According to the information received, on January 13, 2016, the Bangkok South Criminal Court confiscated Mr. Andy Hall’s passport, subsequently issuing a travel ban against him. The order was handed down following a temporary bail request submission ahead of an indictment hearing to be held on January 18, 2016 before the same Court, for a criminal defamation and computer crimes case brought against him by the Thai pineapple processing company Natural Fruit (see background information).

Thus, while the Court granted temporary bail [1] to Mr. Andy Hall, he is prohibited to leave Thailand before the case has been ruled on by the Court, unless permission is granted on a case by case basis. The criminal charges carry a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine of about 10.3 million Euros in damages.

This criminal defamation and computer crimes case is only one of four criminal and civil cases filed by Natural Fruit against Andy Hall. Another three cases are also still pending.

The Observatory firmly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Hall, as it clearly aims at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities, and calls upon the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against him.

Background information:

Since February 2013, the Thai pineapple processing company Natural Fruit has filed four criminal and civil lawsuits against Mr. Hall for defamation and computer crimes in relation to Mr. Hall’s contribution to a report by the Finnish NGO Finnwatch that alleged serious labour rights abuses at the company’s factory in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. Published in 2013, the report, Cheap has a high price: Responsibility problems relating to international private label products and food production in Thailand, gathered worker interviews in order to document labour rights violations at the factory, including child labour, underpayment of wages, confiscation of migrant workers’ travel and work documents, and failure to provide legally mandated paid sick days, holidays and leave [2].

On October 29, 2014, the Phra Khanong Provincial Court dismissed the first criminal defamation case [3], due to Mr. Hall’s unlawful interrogation process under Section 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code [4]. However, the Attorney General Office subsequently appealed the court’s dismissal of the case. On September 18, 2015, the appeal was dismissed. In December 2015, Natural Fruit and Thailand’s Attorney General were given a permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on this case.

On August 24, 2015, the Bangkok South Criminal Court indicted Mr. Hall under Article 14(1) of the Computer Crimes Act and Article 328 of the Thai Criminal Code in a case of criminal defamation and computer crimes, another case brought against him by Natural Fruit. He was detained while awaiting trial.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Thai authorities asking them to:

i. Drop all charges against Mr. Andy Hall and put an end to all acts of judicial harassment against him and all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Andy Hall, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iii. Guarantee Mr. Andy Hall’s freedom of movement by returning him his confiscated passport;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with its:

- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6.c, which stipulates that everyone has the right [...] “to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
- Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

· Prime Minister, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Government House, 1 Phitsanulok Road, Dusit, 10300, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
· Minister of Interior, Gen Anupong Paochinda, Asatang Road, Ratchabophit, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, Sri Ayutthaya Building, 443 Sri Ayutthaya Road, Phaya Thai, 10400, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Minister of Justice, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
· Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmoung, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, 10330, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
· Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand; 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Email: help@nhrc.or.th
· Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 68 10; Fax: + 32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country

Paris-Geneva, January 14, 2016

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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