Thai company attempts to silence critics
A British academic is facing jail and a possible $10million dollar fine in Thailand after publishing research that accused a fruit company of using child labour.
Andy Hall, who conducted research for Finland-based NGO Finnwatch, was arrested last week on charges of defamation after the Natural Fruit Company Ltd lodged a fourth complaint with Thai authorities.
The report, published in January 2013, outlines a number of issues in a fruit processing plant relating to migrant labour including the use of child labour, underpayment and the confiscation of documents.
It also alleges that migrants workers suffer discrimination and unfair treatment by managers.
This is the fourth case brought by the company, which critics say is attempting to bully and silence human rights groups rather than addressing the issues in its supply chain.
Hall was granted bail with two Thai food industry bodies, that recognise the validity of his work, paying the bond needed.
Several NGOs and global union federations have condemned Natural Fruit Co’s legal action against Hall. Five UN special rapporteurs have sought clarifications amidst concern Hall is being targeted for his work to promote migrant rights.
“Hall told us he will voluntary take part in all judicial processes. He has done nothing wrong and hopes his case will shed only further light on systematic migrant rights abuses in Thailand,” said a spokesperson for Finnwatch.
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