Migrant Rights Activist Indicted in Thailand for Defamation

British migrant rights activist Andy Hall arrives for a trial at the Bangkok South Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand, 24 August 2015. Hall, who reported on alleged rights abuses at a Thai pineapple processing plant, was indicted for defamation and committing computer crimes by the Thai Criminal Court Monday. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

BANGKOK (DPA) – An activist who reported on alleged rights abuses at a Thai pineapple processing plant was indicted for defamation and committing computer crimes by the Thai Criminal Court Monday.

British researcher Andy Hall published a report in 2013 alleging Natural Fruit Company Limited committed human rights violations against migrant workers in one of its plants.

The report titled Cheap Has a High Price accused the company of employing underage workers, forcing staff to do overtime and confiscating migrant workers' passports.

Natural Fruit denied the allegations, said that the report led to a loss of profit, and filed several charges. Hall told dpa he would plead not guilty when formally charged at the next hearing on October 19.

The cases have been pending for more than a year.

Natural Fruit also sued Hall in 2014 for defamation over an interview he gave Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, but a Thai court ruled in the activist's favour in that case.

Charges of defamation and computer crimes have increasingly been used against journalists and activists in Thailand in recent years, a practice international organizations have said might be used to silence criticism.

The labour activist faces up to seven years in prison if convicted on the charges in the latest case.

 

 

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