Print this page

03 Feb Migrant activist back in Thai court for 2nd fruit firm defamation case

Written by Mizzima Published in Regional Read 1616 times
British rights activist for migrant workers, Andy Hall (C) arrives for his trial at the Phra Khanong Provincial Court in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 October 2014. Photo: EPA/NARONG SANGNAK
British rights activist for migrant workers, Andy Hall (C) arrives for his trial at the Phra Khanong Provincial Court in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 October 2014. Photo: EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Activist Mr Andy Hall is back in court to fight another defamation case brought by Natural Fruit Co, a Thai company he accused of human rights violations, according to the Bangkok Post on February 3.

It is the second case of four brought by the firm against the British activist stemming from a report he wrote about alleged human rights violations committed by the firm against its migrant workers.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court on February 2 heard the first of six witnesses presented by the company.

Mr Hall is facing legal action for a report he wrote for rights watchdog Finnwatch, ''Cheap has a High Price'' released on January 21, 2013 at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand.

It accused Natural Fruit Co, a Prachuap Khiri Khan-based pineapple concentrate juice producer, of treating its migrant workers unfairly.Many of the migrant workers are Myanmar nationals.

A senior management member of the firm, Mr Kachin Kongneeyavanich, told the court the report's claims were untrueand his company did not receive any notification from Finnwatch seeking comment on its claims.

Mr Hall's lawyer asked Mr Kachin about a labour audit report conducted by Thai labour officials after the Finnwatch report went public, which portrayed several incidents of alleged malpractice against the migrants.

Mr Kachin said he does not know what information the factory manager provided to the labour officials. The court has called Mr Kachin back for cross-examination on March 16.

Mr Hall, who was not in court for this hearing, told Mizzima that the planned full-day session only ran in the morning, due to a conflict over court scheduling. He said the third preliminary hearing is set for March 16.

Natural Fruit has filed defamation charges against the activist under the Criminal Code and the Computer Crime Act.

The civil suit demanding 300 million baht [US$10 million] compensation was temporarily ejected from the Nakhon Pathom Provincial Court as judges wanted to wait until the result of a related action before the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court was known.

In July 2013, the Prakanong Provincial Court dismissed a defamation case against Mr Hall regarding an interview he gave the news network Al Jazeera in April 2013 about the report.Natural Fruit and public prosecutors, co-plaintiffs in the case, appealed to the court in October last year.

"We are disappointed to see that Natural Fruit is not going to stop its judicial harassment. The company continues to try its best to cause damage and inconvenience to Andy Halland Finnwatch by keeping these cases going," said Ms Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch.


Courtesy of the Bangkok Post

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 February 2015 13:53