Spalding

Thai court issues arrest warrant for Lincolnshire human rights activist

Spalding human rights campaigner Andy Hall has accused Thai authorities of “unacceptable judicial harassment” after Bankok South Criminal Court ordered an arrest warrant for him in connection to a high profile defamation case.

Hall was convicted for defaming Thai pineapple company, Natural Fruit Company, by exposing them for alleged modern slavery in 2013 in a report for Finnish watchdog Finnwatch.

He had taken part in research documenting the treatment of migrant workers in the Thai fruit industry.

He was sentenced then to four years’ imprisonment (reduced by one year and suspended for two years) and ordered to pay a fine of Bt200,000 (reduced to Bt150,000) after being convicted on criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges.

His legal team submitted an appeal to his conviction in February 2017.

The warrant, ordered on Tuesday, April 24, demanded Hall’s attendance in the court to hear a verdict of the Appeals Court on multiple appeals against his September 2016 criminal conviction.

Natural Fruit had appealed the verdict in December 2016, seeking instead an immediate custodial sentence.

On issuing a warrant for his arrest, the Bankok South court ordered his attendance in person to hear appeal verdicts. The court was adjourned to a hearing on May 31 however as Hall was not in court.

The activist, who no longer lives in Thailand, claims he has had no formal summons.

He said in a 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 being 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 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 issuance by the Court was in accordance with Thai and international law.”

If Andy Hall does no appear in court on May 31, the Appeals Court verdict may be read in his absence.