Coalition backs campaigner Andy

Andy Hall with with mum and dad Pat and Des in Spalding.
Andy Hall with with mum and dad Pat and Des in Spalding.
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A coalition of groups and MPs from all around the globe have called on the Thai government to change its ways after the prosecution of Spalding human rights defender Andy Hall.

Mr Hall was in September found guilty of defamation and computer crimes after campaigning for migrant workers in Thailand’s fruit industry.

He was given a three-year suspended jail term and fined 150,000 baht (£3,300). Mr Hall is appealing the verdict.

He had contributed to a report by a Finnish watchdog, Finnwatch, in 2013, alleging the Natural Fruit Company mistreated its workers.

In a letter to the Thai prime minister, the coalition of 110 civil society groups, worker organisations, businesses and members of the European Parliament is calling on his government not to use criminal defamation laws and the Computer Crimes Act to prosecute human rights defenders.

They want the provisions in the Penal Code criminalising defamation to be repealed and the Computer Crime Act amended to bring it into compliance with international human rights law regarding freedom of expression.

They are also asking Prime Minister Prayut to actively and effectively implement the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and to ratify and implement International Labour Organisation Core Labor Conventions.

The coalition claims the Thai court’s judgement could seriously hinder the work of human rights advocates.

They say it could prevent effective and confidential research and monitoring of supply chains, thereby putting migrant and other vulnerable workers at higher risk of debt bondage, forced labour and other abuse.