Andy Hall. Photo: Teija Laakso / maailma.net
Thailand needs to stop the harassment of workers’ rights advocates
The British-born worker and migrant rights defender Andy Hall is due back in court on Monday 24 August, facing criminal defamation charges for exposing the truth about exploitation of migrant Burmese workers in Thailand’s Natural Fruit pineapple factory.
Forty-four international and national organisations have sent a further letter to the Prime Minister, demanding that the Government take action to prevent the harassment of human rights defenders like Andy. And the TUC will lead a delegation of British NGOs to the Thai Embassy on Friday to hand in the letter and raise Andy’s case with diplomats to get the message across that Thailand’s international image is suffering as a result.
Global unions like the International Trade Union Confederation, and 6 sectoral union federations with member unions in Thailand, have joined the action. The International Federation of Journalists has also signed up, because their members in Thailand are increasingly facing harassment using criminal defamation cases. So has the TUC (as Andy’s home trade union federation), the USA’s AFLCIO – whose Solidarity Center supports unions in the country – and the ACTU in Australia, one of Thailand’s biggest markets. And seven Finnish trade unions have also backed the letter: Andy was working for the Finnwatch NGO when he reported on the abuse of migrant workers for which he is now being prosecuted.
The letter emphasises that:
“Further prosecution of the charges against Mr. Hall will damage Thailand’s international image and violate Thailand’s obligations under international law. Thailand is obligated to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises, including cases in which businesses use domestic laws to intimidate human rights advocates and suppress freedom of expression.”
It’s time for the Thai Government to step in and end this farrago.