Thailand recently convicted a British human rights activist Andy Hall for revealing serious human rights violations and illegal activities in a Thai pineapple processor Natural Fruit Company Ltd. Hall was sentenced to a three year suspended term of imprisonment for his work on a 2013 report of a Finnish NGO Finnwatch. The sentence raised worldwide criticism. MEP Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA) is worried about its consequences to exposing human rights breaches in the future.
“Andy Hall should have been awarded for revealing the workers’ abuses. This court decision can lead to further silencing of human rights defenders in Thailand. Thailand has recently made some progress in the work against labour exploitation, for example by ratifying the ILO convention 187 on promotional framework for occupational safety and health. Still, Thailand should abolish the crime of defamation and to revise the computer crime act which currently contains disproportionate prison sentences for such violation,” Hautala says.
Hautala hopes that the case of Andy Hall pushes the Commission to pay more attention to the human rights situation in partner countries when trade policies are negotiated. According to her, corporate social responsibility and its common rules are a cornerstone for improving the human rights situation in many countries.
“Transparency and responsible business conduct is today’s thinking. Companies should be thankful for researchers and civil society organisations looking into workers’ rights and environmental responsibility in supply chains. Consumers have the right to know the origin of the products and the truth about the production conditions. By defending Andy Hall, taking the report findings seriously and supporting Andy all the way through the process, the Finnish retail company S-group has done what all companies should do. I hope others will follow their example,” Hautala concludes.
On 6 October, on the initiative of the Greens/EFA, the European Parliament will debate and vote on a resolution concerning Thailand’s human rights situation and the case of Andy Hall. Hall is currently visiting Strasbourg by invitation of Hautala.
European Parliament resolution on Thailand, notably the case of Andy Hall to be voted 6 October 2016
Webstream of the press conference held in the European Parliament on 5 October 2016
Finnwatch report 2013 Cheap has a high price http://www.finnwatch.org/images/cheap%20has%20a%20high%20price_exec%20summary_final.pdf