TRIAL ON CRIMINAL DEFAMATION AND COMPUTER CRIMES CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH MIGRANTS RIGHTS ACTIVIST ANDY HALL COMMENCES 19TH MAY IN BANGKOK

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PRESS RELEASE
12th May 2016

TRIAL ON CRIMINAL DEFAMATION AND COMPUTER CRIMES CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH MIGRANTS RIGHTS ACTIVIST ANDY HALL COMMENCES 19TH MAY IN BANGKOK

For more information on this press release, please contact:

1. Andy Hall, Migration Researcher and Activist +66 (0)84 6119 209 and
andyjhall1979 (a) gmail.com
2. Sonja Vartiala, Finnwatch Executive Director +358 (0)44 5687 465
and sonja.vartiala (a) finnwatch.org
3. Nakhon Chompuchat, Lawyer to Andy Hall +66(0)818473086 and nakhonct
(a) gmail.com

Q&A document, last updated on 12th May 2016, is available at:
http://www.finnwatch.org/images/pdf/AndyHall_May2016_QA_Eng.pdf

On 19th May 2016 at Southern Bangkok Criminal Court, British migrant
rights defender Andy Hall goes on trial facing criminal defamation and
computer crimes charges. Over three years since an original criminal
prosecution was filed against Hall, the first three days of this
criminal trial in May will hear testimony of prosecution witnesses.
Defense witness testimony will be over eight days in June and July.

This criminal case with multiple charges filed is the most serious of
all four cases brought by a Prachuap Khiri Khan province based pineapple
processing company Natural Fruit Company Ltd. against Andy Hall. The
charges were brought following publication of a Finnwatch report Cheap
Has a High Price in January 2013. Whilst this case was the first and
most serious to be filed against Hall back in February 2013, it is the
second case to actually reach a full criminal trial in Thailand’s
courts.

The criminal charges in this case carry a maximum combined penalty of
seven years imprisonment in addition to potential fines. Andy Hall was
indicted on these charges in January 2016 when, pending trial and
following granting of temporary release on bail, his passport was
confiscated and permission to leave Thailand restricted without
permission from the court.

“Andy Hall’s work in defence of migrant worker rights in Thailand is
internationally recognised. This campaign of judicial harassment against
him has been condemned by civil society and responsible businesses all
around the world. Finnwatch continue to stand by Andy Hall,” said Sonja
Vartiala, Finnwatch’s executive director.

The report Cheap Has a High Price alleged labour rights violations at
Natural Fruit’s processing plant in Southern Thailand as reported from
interviews with migrant workers from Myanmar. The interview data was
analysed, assembled and a report was published by Finnwatch whereas Andy
Hall only coordinated the field research and, with a help of a team of
others, conducted worker interviews for the report.

Vartiala will travel to Bangkok in July to give testimony as a defense
witness at the Court. Another key defence witness will be from retail
chain S Group, one of the biggest companies in Finland.

“We commend S Group’s decision to take a stand in this case. Free and
independent civil society also benefits companies,” said Vartiala.

The defence shall also call as key witnesses at this trial migrant
workers formally employed at Natural Fruit, leading figures from export
companies also featured in Finnwatch’s reports on migrant conditions in
Thailand as well as migrant rights, consumer and media activists,
unionists, lawyers and researchers.

“What is the most worrying thing about this campaign of intimidation
against Andy Hall is the impact it has on other people – activists,
journalists, whistleblowers and victims of abuse – who may be silenced
in fear because of it,” said Vartiala.

Following a September 2014 criminal trial, in October 2014 and again in
September 2015, the Prakanong Court and the Appeals Court both dismissed
an additional criminal defamation case filed against Hall for an
interview he gave to Aljazeera English in Myanmar on collecting data for
the Finnwatch research and his prosecution. The case was dismissed due
to legal irregularities in the investigation processes. In January 2016,
Natural Fruit together with Thailand’s Attorney General appealed this
dismissal judgement to Thailand’s Supreme Court for another ruling.

Another two cases pending against Andy Hall are civil suits for damages
of over USD 13 million connected to the two criminal cases. Hearings on
the first of these cases was postponed in October 2014 until a final
ruling on the Bangkok South Criminal case. An additional case is
currently under process.

These ongoing cases have attracted widespread international attention
and support. In September 2015, five United Nations (UN) Special
Rapporteurs wrote to the Thai government for a second time expressing
deep concern that the cases against Andy Hall were directly connected
with his legitimate and peaceful work as a human rights defender. Hall’s
case has been highlighted by the United States in its State Department
Annual Trafficking in Persons Report and has garnered significant
attention from the European Commission and members of the European
Parliament at a time when Thailand’s record of protection of the rights
of migrant workers is the focus of significant international criticism.

Several international observers are expected to attend Hall’s upcoming
trial. Hearings are scheduled from 8.30am to 4.30pm at Bangkok South
Criminal Court (Charoen Krung Road) during 2016 on 19th, 25th and 26th
May; 2nd, 9th and 16th June; and 12th to 15th and 26th to 27th July.

A final ruling on this case is expected in September 2016.

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