Expat human rights campaigner facing Thai jail over labour abuse research

Published:  3 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Thailand
Migrant workers rights activist and lawyer Andy Hall is on trial in Bangkok for disclosing the results of investigations in worker abuse.

British expat Hall has been resident in Thailand for 11 years and is a prominent campaigner for migrant workers’ rights in the Kingdom’s agricultural and seafood industries. The current charges being brought against him carry a prison sentence of up to seven years.

Hall has already been cleared of previous charges in a recent court hearing, but it seems the companies he’s researched are out to get him. He’s also been campaigning in behalf of the two Burmese workers at present under sentence of death for the Koh Tao backpacker murders last year.

Prior to coming to Thailand, Hall lived in Burma and worked with the then opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and his work both there and in Thailand has gained him many supporters, including the two Thai seafood industry associations who helped with his bail fund as part of their support for his work to improve conditions for migrant workers.

The present charges against him are being brought by one of the world’s largest exporters of processed fruit juices. The company has lodged no less than four civil and criminal cases against Hall, all of which could result in massive damages awards and a prison term of several years. The present case concerns computer crimes and Thailand’s notorious criminal defamation laws, with Hall absolutely denying any wrongdoing.

Hall’s investigation in 2012 on behalf of a Finnish campaign group produced a report which landed him in his present situation due to its findings of discrimination against Burmese workers, illegal low pay, poor living and working conditions and abuse. The company involved denied the allegations and immediately launched defamation cases. The trial has attracted overseas interest from human rights organisations as well as the EU parliament and the United Nations, and is being considered as a warning to international companies sourcing various food products from Thailand as part of their supply chains.
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