Bangkok South Criminal Court today ordered for the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for Andy Hall with a view to ensuring Hall’s attendance in the court to hear a verdict of the Appeals Court on multiple appeals against his September 2016 criminal conviction.
Diplomats from the EU Mission to Thailand alongside the UK, Finnish and Swedish embassy officials and officials from OHCHR and ICJ attended today’s hearing alongside Hall’s legal defence team, a source at the Court informed Finnwatch.
The court was originally expected to read the appeals verdict today but the hearing on the appeal was instead adjourned until 31st May 2018 given Hall did not attend the court in person. Andy Hall is currently no longer resident in Thailand and attests that he was not formally summoned to attend the Court today through any official or lawful channels.
In response to the today's news, Hall provided the following statement to Finnwatch:
“I have faced intolerable amounts of judicial harassment which essentially undermined my ability to do human rights work effectively inside Thailand. This is why I left the country in November 2016. I am disappointed and concerned this warrant has now been issued for my arrest and this unacceptable judicial harassment against me continues unabated.”
“I am currently receiving assistance from a team of international lawyers acting on my behalf on the issue of enforcement of Thai Court orders in criminal and civil cases against me when I am no longer resident in Thailand. I shall continue to consult closely with both my Thai and international legal defence teams on these issues and concerning the potential issuance of international arrest warrants against me. I shall also make representations to the UK government and the European Union to immediately raise concerns on whether today’s arrest warrant issued by the Court was in accordance with Thai and international law.”
On 20th September 2016, Andy Hall was sentenced to four years' imprisonment (reduced by one year and suspended by two years) and ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 baht (reduced to 150,000 baht) following his conviction on criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges. The proceedings against Hall were initiated by a Thai pineapple company Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. in 2013.
Andy Hall left Thailand shortly after his conviction claiming unbearable judicial harassment when additional criminal charges were filed against him by a chicken farm, Thammakaset Company Ltd, in November 2016. His legal team, however, submitted an appeal against this conviction on 8th February 2017. Natural Fruit also appealed the verdict in December 2016 seeking an immediate custodial sentence against Hall. An Appeals Court’s decision can be further appealed to Thailand’s Supreme Court.
In 2012, Andy Hall interviewed Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. workers for the Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price, published in 2013. These interviewees’ testimonies detailed allegations of labour abuse which, when published by Finnwatch, provided the reason for Natural Fruit’s prosecution in this case.
Should Andy Hall fail to appear at Bangkok South Criminal Court again on 31st May 2018, the Appeals Court verdict may be read in absentia.
”We remain hopeful the Appeals Court will acquit Andy of all these charges. The charges against him stem from his legitimate work as a human rights defender and migrant worker rights activist. He is not a criminal,” said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch.
For more information on this and the other three criminal and civil cases filed by Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. against Andy Hall, please see Finnwatch Q&A document
, last updated on 23rd April 2018.
Andy Hall greeted his supporters in front of the Bangkok’s Southern Criminal Court on 20 September 2016