Thai court dismisses case against UK activist

2014-10-29 07:42
British activist Andy Hall answers a question from the press as he arrives at a court in Bangkok. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, AFP)

British activist Andy Hall answers a question from the press as he arrives at a court in Bangkok. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - A Thai court dismissed a defamation charge against a British activist on Wednesday in a case linked to a report he co-authored alleging severe labour abuses in Thailand's food industry, a key supplier to Western supermarkets.

Andy Hall, aged 34, had faced up to a year in jail if convicted of defamation, a criminal offence in Thailand after Thai fruit processing giant Natural Fruit made the complaint against him.

Hall's report investigating working conditions at a fruit processing factory belonging to Natural Fruit in southern Thailand levelled accusations of forced and child labour, unlawfully low wages and long hours.

But a judge at the Bangkok court said the police probe, which stemmed from an interview with television network Al-Jazeera, was flawed as it did not involve a Thai state prosecutor from the start.

"The investigation was not legal, which means the plaintiff has no legal right to file a complaint, the court dismisses the case", the judge ruled.

Natural Fruit, a major supplier to the European drink market, has denied the allegations in Hall's report.

Hall stands by his research and has accused the company of trying to distract from the report's damning findings through legal action.

Ahead of the ruling Hall told AFP he was "very confident" the case would be thrown out.

The case related to one of Hall's interview with Al-Jazeera over his 2013 report for Finnish rights watchdog Finnwatch called "Cheap Has a High Price".

Migrants

More serious charges await under the computer crime act, which carry up to seven years in jail for each count and are due to be heard in November.

The fruit processor is also seeking $10m through a civil suit.

Prominent European food firms have called for the charges to be dropped, while rights groups have criticised the defamation proceedings from a Thai food industry that has faced a slew of bad headlines over recent months.

Accounts have circulated of abuse, particularly inside the fishing industry of illegal immigrants held captive and forced into unpaid labour, sometimes on boats at sea for years on end without receiving any payment for their work.

Thailand has long turned to migrants from poorer neighbours Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to help keep major Thai industries afloat, from seafood to construction.

But they often lack official work permits and are paid below the minimum wage.

In June the US state department downgraded Thailand to its lowest ranking in a report on human trafficking, highlighting abuses in the fisheries industry among others.

Read more on:    thailand

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.