Monday, September 25, 2017

Thai court dismisses suit against activist

A Bangkok court has dismissed a defamation suit against migrant rights activist Andy Hall on October 29 on the grounds that the police did not sufficiently involve the Thai Attorney General’s Office or Mr Hall’s defence team during their investigation.

However, the activist’s legal woes are far from over. The case is the first of several civil and criminal suits brought against the Yangon-based researcher by Natural Fruit Company in response to Mr Hall’s documentation of the exploitation and abuse of mostly Myanmar migrant workers in its factories. The report was published by the Helsinki-based advocacy group Finnwatch.

On October 30, the same court ruled that hearings for a second charge of civil defamation will be pushed back until after more serious criminal charges are decided in November.

The hearing for these charges, which include violating the “computer crimes act” and criminal defamation, will begin on November 17 in Bangkok.

Even with the first charge dropped, Mr Hall still faces up to seven years in prison and fines of US$10 million.

He said he was pleased the charge had been dismissed but disappointed the Thai authorities were not doing more to rein in Natural Fruit. The “Thai gov ongoing lack of willingness/failure to see #naturalfruit harassment stopped well reflects dire migrant rights situation in Thailand,” he posted on Twitter.