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Courts used to 'silence' those uncovering injustice in Thailand

Rights group says trial of British human rights activist should have never gone ahead

September 21, 2016

Another human rights activist has been unjustly targeted in Thailand, says Amnesty International in reaction to a Bangkok court's guilty verdict against Andy Hall, a British migrant rights worker.

"The verdict [on Sept. 20] is an appalling end to a trial that never should have started," said Champa Patel, Amnesty International's Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

"Thailand needs to take seriously its obligation to protect human rights activists rather than allowing its legal system to be hijacked by companies seeking to silence those exposing abusive practices," said Patel.

Hall was found guilty by the Bangkok South Criminal Court for criminal defamation after charges were brought against him by Natural Fruit Co., Ltd. The company was the subject of a 2013 report that Hall worked on for the civil society group Finnwatch while researching abuses against migrant workers in Thailand.

"Sadly, the case against Andy Hall is just one of many in which human rights defenders face criminal defamation charges for their crucial work supporting vulnerable individuals and communities. Criminal defamation provisions are being used to silence people who do a public service by uncovering injustice," Patel said.

Hall was fined 150 000 baht (US$4,300) and received a three-year sentence. His sentence was suspended for two years, and he will not serve time in prison unless he breaks the terms of his probation.

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