BANGKOK – The Bangkok Southern Criminal Court postponed a case until Nov 11, 2013 against a British labour activist Andy Hall for the fifth time on Friday after failing to locate the defendant.
Long time civil rights and labour activist, Andy Hall, has been accused by Natural Fruit Ltd of criminal defamation and breaking the Computer Crime Act for disseminating his research on violations of migrant labour rights in its factory.
Hall, currently residing in Myanmar, has refused to attend the court hearings, the first step in deciding whether his case will go to a full trial.
“I will not attend the court until I am legally obliged to do so,” Hall said. “I will not negotiate or engage with Natural Fruit until they drop this malicious case.”
Natural Fruit, producer of canned pineapple and juice concentrate, is a large employer in Thailand of migrant workers from Myanmar.
The company is suing Hall for 300 million baht (9.4 million US dollars) in compensation for accusing it of hiring Myanmar minors and other violations of Thai labour laws, in a report issued in May by Finnwatch, a Finnish advocacy group.
The pending case has galvanised support for Hall from various human rights organisations.
“Criminal charges against Andy Hall reflect an attempt to stifle serious reporting on alleged abuses by one of Thailand’s top fruit processors,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement issued in April.
“Freedom to investigate abuses by corporations is critical to ensure compliance and accountability under Thai law and human rights standards.”