PEN SA Calls on Thai Authorities to Quash Andy Hall’s Conviction

11 Oct 2016
PEN SA Calls on Thai Authorities to Quash Andy Hall’s Conviction

PEN South Africa has written to the Thai authorities calling on them to quash British migrant rights activist Andy Hall’s conviction. Hall has been convicted of criminal defamation and computer crimes in connection with a report published by Finnwatch in 2013. Hall was sentenced to three-year prison term, suspended for two years, and a fine of 150,000 Baht (approx. US$4,300) on 20 May 2016. PEN International believes that the charges against Hall are directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work as a migrant rights advocate and calls for his sentence to be overturned and his conviction to be quashed. Read more about the case and find out what you can do to help on PEN International’s website.

PEN South Africa’s letter to Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha:

Dear Prime Minister

PEN South Africa wishes to express our concern at the charges brought against Andy Hall. We are deeply concerned that Hall is being detained for his peaceful and legitimate work as a migrant rights advocate and believe that the charges brought against him should be dismissed.

We wish to draw your attention to the use of criminal defamation and the Computer Crimes legislation to silence critical voices and dissent. We ask that human rights and freedom of expression be respected in Thailand. The charges against Mr. Hall were brought in relation to the publishing and dissemination of a report to which Mr. Hall contributed research by a Finnish NGO called Finnwatch on the working conditions at Natural Fruit Factory. Mr Hall is due protection from reprisals from the Natural Fruit corporation for his work as a human rights defender. The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders recognises the legitimacy and importance of human rights defenders and we call for Mr. Hall’s rights in this regard to be respected.

UN human rights mechanisms have repeatedly clarified that criminal defamation and insult laws such as those imposed against Mr Hall are incompatible with international standards on free expression. In accordance with these international frameworks for human rights PEN South Africa recommends that defamation and insult be fully decriminalized and that the Criminal Code be amended in accordance with the aforementioned frameworks.

Thailand is obligated to protect against human rights abuses by corporations, including this case whereby a corporation is using domestic laws to suppress freedom of expression. Thailand’s duty forms part of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Thailand has ratified.

We urge the government of the Kingdom of Thailand to protect the right to freedom of speech and ask that Mr Hall be cleared of all charges.

Margie Orford
President of PEN South Africa

Mandla Langa
Executive Vice-President of PEN South Africa

Raymond Louw
Vice-President of PEN South Africa