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Thailand finds labour rights activist guilty

British labour activist Andy Hall speaks to the media as he arrives at the Bangkok South Criminal Court in Bangkok yesterday. Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP
British labour activist Andy Hall speaks to the media as he arrives at the Bangkok South Criminal Court in Bangkok yesterday. Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

Thailand finds labour rights activist guilty

British labour activist Andy Hall, who has long highlighted abuse of workers in Thailand, often Cambodian migrants, was found guilty by a Bangkok court yesterday of defamation and breaching cyber crime laws in relation to a 2013 report he authored.

Hall was sued by Thai firm Natural Fruit after the report, published by Finnish civil rights group Finnwatch, outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at the pineapple-processing company.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court handed Hall a suspended three-year sentence though the activist remained in custody pending payment of a 150,000 baht ($4,300) fine.

While the section on Natural Fruit did not list any Cambodians at the factory, two other firms in the report – Thai Union Manufacturing and Unicord Public Company Limited – had employed Cambodian workers and were slammed for low wages, confiscating work permits and harassing migrant workers.

Reacting to the conviction, Finnwatch’s executive director Sonja Vartiala said that Hall had been made a “scapegoat” for speaking out in support of migrant worker rights.

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