The threat of jail in Thailand has finally been lifted for a Spalding human rights activist.
In September 2016 Andy Hall was sentenced by a Bangkok court to four years’ imprisonment, reduced by one year and suspended by two years as well as fine for interviewing workers at the Natural Fruit Co, Ltd.
His interviews were part of a report by the group Finnwatch entitled ‘Cheap Has a High Price’ which alleged of violations of human labour and human rights at natural fruit plant in southern Thailand published in 2013.
In 2018 the country’s Appeals Court acquitted him ruling that he had not acted unlawfully and his investigations were in the public interest.
Natural Fruit took that to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, but on Tuesday, they ruled in Andy’s favour.
Though it brings an end to this case, Natural Fruit has filed four criminal and civil cases against Andy and is back before the Supreme Court on July 14 as he appeals a £260,000 fine for defamation for taking part in an interview on the report with Al Jazeera in 2013.
Andy, who is currently in Nepal, said: “I welcome the final ruling in this case. But after years of ongoing judicial harassment that has taken a heavy toll on me, my family and my colleagues, the verdict does not feel like a victory.
“My activism for over a decade in Thailand was intended only to promote and uphold the fundamental rights of millions of migrant workers in the country.
“These workers continue to find themselves without a voice in high risk situations of forced labour and subject to systemic human and labour rights violations in global supply chains.
“I remain open to reconciliation to put an end once and for all to this continued irrational cycle of litigation against me and my colleagues that remain in Thailand.”