Thailand: Appeal Court reverses criminal defamation conviction against human rights defender Andy Hall | News

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Andy Hall, British human rights defender
Photo Credit: Bangkok OHCHR

On 31 May 2018, Thailand’s Appeals Court reversed the September 2016 conviction of Andy Hall, a British human rights defender, on criminal defamation charges and offences under the Computer Crime Act relating to research he conducted for a 2012 FinnWatch report documenting human rights violations by several corporations including the Natural Fruit Company Ltd (Natural Fruit). The Appeals Court ruled that Finnwatch and Andy Hall’s research was in the public interest and confirmed that Computer Crime Act charges cannot be used in tandem with criminal defamation charges. This case is one of several strategic lawsuits against public participation (“SLAPP suits”) in a campaign of judicial harassment by Natural Fruit against Mr. Hall that began in early 2013. More detail on five years of judicial harassment against Mr. Hall is found in Finnwatch’s 31 May 2018 press release. The Appeal Court reversal of Mr. Hall’s conviction follows a 17 May 2018 United Nations (UN) press release from a group of Human Rights Council Special Procedures mandate holders criticizing Thailand’s use of defamation legislation as a means of silencing human rights defenders reporting business-related human rights abuses.