Andy Hall. Photo: Teija Laakso / maailma.net
Thai worker rights activist Andy Hall faces prosecution again
Today, British-born workers’ and migrants’ rights activist Andy Hall is back in court facing further charges arising from his work for a Finnish NGO on the abuse of migrant workers in a Thai pineapple canning factory. The actions of the courts, the Thai Attorney-General and the abusive employer concerned clearly amount to judicial harassment, dragging the court cases and the threat of huge fines and long jail terms over Andy to discourage him and others from resisting the abuse.
Andy faces a seven-year prison sentence for his part in writing the report, and the employer concerned is seeking the incredible sum of 400m Baht in civil damages.
On Thursday, a court confiscated his passport to stop him leaving the country (despite that fact that over the two years the court cases have been underway, he has frequently left the country and returned to face charges) and required about £5k in bail, which was put up by Thai employers in the tuna industry and the Finnish NGO. The British Embassy is seeking the return of Andy’s passport.
As well as the TUC and many trade unions around the world, Andy Hall has received support from many Members of the European Parliament, led by his parents’ local MEP, Glenis Willmott, who leads the Labour group in the European Parliament. They mounted a public protest last week and have convinced the European Commission’s representatives in Thailand to attend the court hearing.
Although born in Britain, Andy Hall works as an adviser to the TUC’s equivalent in Thailand, called SERC. Commenting on the latest developments, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“If modern slavery is to be eradicated from global supply chains, unions and campaigners must have the right to speak out. The number of court appearances Andy Hall has had to make – in none of which he has been found to have broken any laws – show that this is nothing more than judicial harassment.
“Thailand’s Attorney General should be ashamed of helping bad bosses keep up their appalling practices, and the Thai Government should be cracking down on slavery and trafficking, not on human rights defenders and trade unions.”
We will continue to support Andy in his fight for justice, and continue to raise the abuse of the judicial process, and of migrants and workers in Thailand with the Thai Embassy in London, the UK government and British companies importing goods from Thailand.