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Sued for speaking out

Jun 1

Written by:
01/06/2011 09:44  RssIcon


A prominent human rights activist and lawyer is being sued for defamation by a Japanese Electronics company.

Charles Hector, Malaysian human rights activist, lawyer and blogger is being sued for defamation by the Japanese electronics company Asahi Kosei, after raising concerns over the abuse of  workers at the company's operations.

Hector, who has provided legal assistance for 1,500 migrant workers in Malaysia in the past year alone, and documents the labour abuses on his blog, now faces demands of RM10 million  ($3.3 million USD) in compensation for libel, along with calls for a public apology and the removal of 'slanderous' blog posts.

At the end of January Mr Hector received information from 31 Burmese migrant workers at Asahi Kosei about unfair working conditions. According to the workers the company reacted with intimidation tactics after they complained about poor wages and deductions from their wages  (RM50 per day for non attendance at work, over double of the daily rate of RM20). They claim that several people threatened them at their workers' 'hostel', took away their cooking utensils and materials and switched off the electric main switch. 

After seeking clarification on these concerns with the company and  receiving no reply, Hector released the details of the violations on his Blog. Asahi Kosei argue that they are not liable for the treatment of those workers as they were not hired directly by the company, and regard them as the responsibility of the 'outsourcing' agent.

Ethical Consumer believes companies have a moral responsibility for all workers in their supply chains, whatever the legal position of their employment.

MakeITfair, GoodElectronics, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum, consider Asahi Kosei’s actions towards Mr Hector to be unreasonable and excessive and call upon the company to refrain from legal action toward human rights defenders and opt for dialogue about the labour dispute. They have expressed concerns in a letter to Asahi and to a selection of its buyers including Hitachi, JVC, Philips, Seagate, Sony, and Toshiba.


Ethical Consumer also believes that it is inappropriate to use legal action to silence those who wish to raise human rights concerns and calls on consumers to support this action.

To find out more visit

Sign petition for Asahi Kosei to drop the case again Charles Hector at



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