13 January 2016
Thai court confiscates passport and imposes travel ban on human rights defender Andy Hall
On 13 January 2016, the Bangkok South Criminal Court confiscated the passport of British human rights defender Mr Andy Hall and imposed a travel ban on him. The decision prevents the human rights defender from leaving Thailand without permission before a final judgement in the ongoing case against him is made by the Court.
Andy Hall is a prominent defender of migrant and labour rights, researcher and activist. He is based in Thailand and works on human rights issues both in Thailand and Myanmar. Since 2009, Andy Hall has voluntarily advised and assisted the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN), a Myanmar migrant worker membership-based organisation. Since 2007, he has voluntarily advised and assisted Thailand’s largest independent union confederation, the State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation of Thailand (SERC), as an International Affairs Advisor. Andy Hall also works as a researcher for mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, a Finnish civil society organisation focusing on corporate responsibility. Since February 2013, the Thai pineapple exporter Natural Fruit Company Ltd has initiated four criminal and civil suits against the human rights defender as a result of his contribution to a 2013 report by Finnwatch, which documented serious human rights violations at the company’s production facilities.
The decision to confiscate Andy Hall’s passport and place him under a travel ban was made on 13 January 2016, after he was granted temporary bail at a cost of 300 000 baht (approx. €7600) by the Bangkok South Criminal Court, pending trial on charges of criminal defamation and computer crimes. The decision forbids the human rights defender from leaving Thailand, unless special permission is granted on a case by case basis. On 18 January 2016, Andy Hall will be formally indicted in the case. If found guilty the human rights defender will face a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. The full criminal trial on the above charges is expected to commence later in 2016.
Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the judicial harassment against human rights defender Andy Hall, which it believes to be directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work as a migrant rights and labour rights defender in Thailand.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Thailand to:
- Immediately and unconditionally remove all restrictions on the free movement of Andy Hall and cease all further forms of harassment of him, as Front Line Defenders believes that these measures are not only related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities but, furthermore, are based on the unfounded assertion that he may flee his charges, and constitute a direct transgression of his rights;
- Immediately drop all criminal charges against human rights defender Andy Hall, as it is believed that he is being charged solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.