Andy Hall with supporters. Photo: Prachatai (under creative commons)
Thai Supreme Court win for migrant rights defender Andy Hall doesn’t end legal fight
It’s great news that, overnight, Thailand’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Natural Fruit Company against Andy Hall, the British born migrant and workers’ rights defender whose case we’ve been following for years. But Natural Fruit are still pursuing their campaign of judicial harassment and legal intimidation, and are backing other exploitative employers who Andy’s work has exposed. So the legal battle is not over – although Andy’s now able to go on the front foot by counter-suing – and Thailand’s reputation in the global trading system is still being dragged through the mud by one of its worst employers.
Andy obviously welcomed the judgment, but the NGO that originally funded his research into Natural Fruit, Finnwatch, reports that the case has already done enormous damage by putting other whistleblowers and worker representatives off campaigning to expose exploitation in the massive Thai food export industry. Executive Director Sonja Vartiala commented:
“As many have feared, this campaign has also had a negative impact far beyond the case of Andy himself. We have heard from a number of migrant workers and activists how they are now deeply afraid to speak out on abuse workers face from Thai employers after Andy Hall’s recent conviction.”
So, three cheers for Andy Hall and the Thai Supreme Court, but the battle against Natural Fruit and exploitation in the Thai global food supply chain goes on. And Thailand needs to reform its laws to defend workers’ rights rather than bad bosses.