Thailand: 110 Signatories Condemn Conviction of Human Rights Defender Andy Hall and Call Upon Thailand to Protect Human Rights Defenders | Joint Letter

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Following the conviction of Andy Hall, a coalition of 110 signatories, including 60 civil society organizations, 28 unions and worker organizations, 13 companies and 9 members of the European Parliament, endorsed an open letter calling on Thailand to protect human rights defenders and migrant workers by: repealing criminal defamation provisions of the Penal Code amending the Computer Crime Act to bring it into compliance with international law freedom of expression guarantees; implementing the  UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; and, ratifying and implementing the ILO Core Labour Conventions, particularly No. 87 and No. 98.

10 December 2016

General Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister of Thailand
Government House,
1, Phitsanulok Road,
Dusit, 10300,
Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2282 5131

Re: Andy Hall’s Conviction of Criminal Defamation and Computer Crimes Violations

Dear Prime Minister Prayut:

On this International Human Rights Day, we, the undersigned, write to you concerning the conviction of Andy Hall for criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crime Act. Hall’s conviction was in relation to research he undertook by interviewing migrant workers and sending raw interview data to Finnwatch, which then analyzed the information and published it in the Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price. Finnwatch wrote and published the report online in January 2013 in Helsinki, Finland.

We are writing to you as an international coalition of civil society groups (human rights, labor, development and environmental organizations), national civil society groups, members of parliament, and corporations who seek to ensure that the rights of migrant workers and human rights defenders in Thailand are respected and protected in line with international law and standards. While we acknowledge the decision of the Bangkok South Criminal Court in this case, we remain deeply troubled about the potential of this judgment to seriously hinder the work of human rights advocates by preventing effective and confidential research and monitoring of supply chains, thereby putting migrant and other vulnerable workers at higher risk of debt bondage, forced labor and other abuse. Without basic rights like free association and collective bargaining, migrant workers in Thailand lack the means to effectively protect themselves from abuse and exploitation. This judgment could put them at even greater risk.

In June 2016, the U.S. government highlighted Thailand’s anti-trafficking efforts by upgrading it to Tier 2 Watch List in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The U.S. government noted, however, that the prosecution of Andy Hall “impeded a climate conducive to preventing trafficking, discovering and reporting trafficking crimes, identifying victims, and apprehending additional traffickers.” It is extremely worrying that a Thai court has acted to criminalize the actions of Hall in contributing to professional research on alleged grave human and labour rights abuses committed by a Thai corporation. This decision will undoubtedly create a chilling effect on independent supply chain research, which benefits migrant workers and their families, the environment, the Thai government and people, and the international companies that source their products from Thailand.

We have been consulting closely in the aftermath of this decision and conclude that international brands committed to ethical sourcing are now facing a serious dilemma prompted by the conviction of Andy Hall. An increasing number of international corporations see such research as contributing important value to their decisions around sourcing and production of products. Many of these corporations have made a commitment to their customers to source and produce ethically. Increasing transparency helps international corporations to identify human rights risks and support Thai companies in efforts to improve. Any nation that hinders or obstructs supply chain research may be putting business and investment from those companies at risk.

It is important to note that during Hall’s trial, some of Thailand’s leading seafood companies and associations, as well as a leading European retailer, attested to the benefit of Hall’s research. Unfortunately, the Court’s decision sends a signal to international brands and retailers that the current environment in Thailand may not be conducive to ensuring ethical sourcing and may also embolden further prosecution of human rights defenders who report allegedly illegal practices at companies that harm human rights.

As a step toward assuring civil society, governments, and the private sector that Thailand is genuinely committed to protecting the rights of migrant workers, Thailand should decriminalize defamation and amend the Computer Crime Act to bring it into line with Thailand’s international human rights obligations. The present use of the Computer Crime Act in tandem with prosecution of human rights defenders for criminal defamation undermines the rights to freedom of expression and information of independent researchers, journalists, and human rights defenders, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. We also urge Thailand to actively and effectively implement the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure that human rights defenders have a safe and enabling environment in which to carry out research, education and advocacy. Furthermore, we encourage the Royal Thai Government to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Labor Conventions, particularly Conventions No. 87 (Freedom of Association) and No. 98 (Collective Bargaining), which would empower migrant workers to protect themselves from employer abuses.

The work of Andy Hall and other human rights defenders on supply chains is essential to improving the lives of migrant workers in Thailand and their families in Southeast Asia. It also benefits all consumers of Thai products exported overseas who want to be assured that the products they buy from Thailand are produced in a manner that respects human rights. This work should be commended, not criminalized, by the Thai government.

We urge Thailand to act now to ensure that human rights defenders and migrant workers in Thailand are fully protected by:

1. Repealing the provisions in the Penal Code criminalizing defamation;
2. Amending the Computer Crime Act to bring it into compliance with international human rights law regarding freedom of expression;
3. Actively and effectively implementing the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; and
4. Ratifying and implementing ILO Core Labor Conventions, particularly No. 87 and No. 98.


1 American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations
Cathy Feingold, Director of International Affairs
2 Amnesty International
3 Anti-Slavery International
Aidan McQuade, Director
4 Attac Finland
Omar El-Begawy, President
5 Australia Asia Worker Links
Pier Moro, Secretary
6 Australian Council of Trade Unions
Ged Kearney, President
7 Axfood
Åsa Domeij, Head of Environmental & Social
8 Axfoundation
Carolina Sachs, Secretary General
9 Building and Woodworkers International
Ambet Yuson, General Secretary
10 Burma Campaign UK
Mark Farmaner, Director
11 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Bobbie Sta. Maria, Senior Researcher & Representative for Southeast Asia
12 California Institute for Rural Studies
Gail Wadsworth, Executive Director
13 Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights – CENTRAL
Tola Moeun, Executive Director
14 Child Labor Coalition
Reid Maki, Coordinator
15 Civil Rights Defenders
Robert Hård, Executive Director
16 Coalition of Immokalee Workers
17 Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA)
Jessica Culley
General Coordinator
18 Concordia
Matthew Swift, Co-Founder & CEO
19 Consumers’ Union of Finland
Juha Beurling, Secretary General
20 Coop Sweden
Louise König, Sustainability Manager
21 Dalit Solidarity Network Finland
Minna Havunen, Chair
22 Electronics Watch
Björn Claeson, Director
23 Environmental Justice Foundation
Steve Trent, Executive Director
24 Ethical Trading Initiative
Peter McAllister, Executive Director
25 Dame Glenis Willmott
MEP, Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour
26 Jude Kirton-Darling
MEP, European Parliament
27 Heidi Hautala
MEP, European Parliament
28 Sirpa Pietikäinen
MEP, European Parliament
29 Liisa Jaakonsaari
MEP, European Parliament
30 Merja Kyllönen
MEP, European Parliament
31 Miapetra Kumpula-Natri
MEP, European Parliament
32 Nils Torvalds
MEP, European Parliament
33 Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner
MEP, European Parliament
34 EuroPoultry
Mikael Kristensen, Owner
35 Fair Action
Ulrika Urey, Director
36 Fair World Project
Kerstin Lindgren, Campaign Director
37 Fairfood International
Sander de Jong, Managing Director
38 Farmworker Association of Florida
Antonio Tovar
39 Finn Church Aid
Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director
40 Finnish Food Workers’ Union SEL
Veli-Matti Kuntonen, Union Chairperson
41 Finnish League for Human Rights
Kaari Mattila, Secretary General
42 Finnish Metalworkers´ Union
Riku Aalto, President
43 Finnwatch
Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director
44 FishWise
Tobias Aguirre, Executive Director
45 Food Chain Workers Alliance
Joann Lo, Co-Director
46 Fortify Rights
Amy Smith, Executive Director
47 Freedom Fund
Audrey Guichon, Senior Program Officer
48 Frontline Defenders
Andrew Anderson, Executive Director
49 Giant Eagle
Richard Castle, Director of Seafood
50 Global Witness
Ben Leather, Campaigner
51 Green America
Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director for Consumer
& Corporate Engagement
52 Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Yeb Sano, Executive Director
53 Hazards Magazine
Rory O’Neill, Editor
54 Human Rights at Sea
David Hammond, CEO
55 Human Rights Now
Kazuko Ito, Secretary General
56 Human Rights Watch
Brad Adams, Asia Director
57 Humanity United Action
Ame Sagiv, Investments Manager
58 Hy-Vee Food Stores Inc.
Greg Frampton, V.P. Meat and Seafood Operations
59 Industrial Union TEAM
Heli Puura, President
60 IndustriALL Global Union
Valter Sanches, General Secretary
61 International Federation of Journalists
Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary
62 International Labor Rights Forum
Judy Gearhart, Executive Director
63 International Solidarity Foundation
Miia Nuikka, Executive Director
64 International Trade Union Confederation
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary
65 International Transport Workers’ Federation
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary
66 International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Caterin
Workers’ Associations (IUF)
Ron Oswald, General Secretary
67 Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Patricia King, General Secreatry
68 Kepa
Timo Lappalainen, Executive Director
69 KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
Doros Polykarpou, Executive Director
70 Labor Safe Screen and Sustainability Incubator
Katrina Nakamura, Founder
71 Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
Gail Davidson, Executive Director
72 Laundry Workers Center
73 Martin&Servera
AnnaLena Norrman, Chief Sustainability & Quality Officer
74 Migrant Workers Rights Network
Sein Htay, President
75 Multicultural Center Prague
Marek Canek, Executive Director
76 National Consumers League
Sally Greenberg, Executive Director
77 National Guestworkers Alliance
Jacob Horwitz, Lead Organizer
78 Norvida
Calle Ramvall, Quality and Environmental Director
79 NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Sarah Labowitz and Michael Posner, Co-directors
80 Olof Palme International Center
Jens Orback, Secretary General
81 Pioneer Valley Workers Center
Gabriella della Croce, Development Coordinator & Community Organizer
82 Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants
Michele LeVoy, Director
83 Pro Ethical Trade Finland
Anna Ylä-Anttila, Acting Executive Director
84 Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC)
Fekkak Mamdouh, Co-Director
85 S Group
Lea Rankinen, Senior Vice President Sustainability
and Corporate Responsibility
86 Service Union United PAM
Ann Selin, President
87 Slave Free Seas
Craig Tuck, Founder and Director
88 Social Accountability International (SAI)
Jane Hwang, President & CEO
89 Stop The Traffik Australia
Carolyn and Fuzz Kitto, Co-Directors
90 Svensk Cater
Lars Carlsson, CEO
91 Swedwatch
Alice Blondel, Director
92 Teamsters Joint Council 7
Doug Bloch, Political Director
93 Tehy – The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland
Rauno Vesivalo, President
94 Tenaganita
Glorene A Das, Executive Director
95 The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys
Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary General
96 The Swedish Foundation for Human Rights
Jenny Jansson Pearce, Secretary General
97 The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL
Päivi Niemi-Laine, President
98 Trade Union Pro
Jorma Malinen, President
99 Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK
Janne Ronkainen, Executive Director
100 Trades Union Congress
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary
101 Transient Workers Count Too
John Gee, Chair, Research Sub-Committee
102 Tuko Logistics
Pirjo Heiskanen, Quality Assurance Manager
103 UNI Global Union
Philip Jennings, General Secretary
104 Unil
Julie Haugli Aarnæs, Manager Sustainable Sourcing
105 Union to Union
Kristina Henschen, General Secretary
106 Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Mark Zirnsak, Justice & International Mission
107 Verité
Shawn MacDonald, CEO
108 Walk Free
Joanna Ewart-James, Director
109 Wegmans Food Markets
Carl P. Salamone, V.P. Seafood Sustainability
110 Worker Justice Center of New York
Lewis Papenfuse, Executive Director