Almost 30 international NGOs and trade unions have appealed to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to intervene in lawsuits facing British activist Andy Hall, who campaigns for migrant workers’ rights.
The final hearing of a second defamation suit he faces will be held today.
The court will decide whether to indict Mr Hall.
If the court decides in favour of indictment, Mr Hall will be arrested and detained pending bail.
He would then face a trial and, if found guilty and convicted, up to seven years in prison.
The 29 organisations said they were disappointed to learn the attorney-general is trying to appeal against the dismissal of the defamation and computer crimes case against Mr Hall.
In October, Phra Khanong Provincial Court dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against Mr Hall by Natural Fruit, a fruit-processing company in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Twenty-nine organisations led by FinnWatch have undersigned the appeal to the premier expressing concern about the upcoming trial.
“Thailand is continuing to harass a human rights defender despite a court decision and its obligation to uphold freedom of speech,” the group said.
According to the group, this was not in line with the 2014 TIP report recommendation that “Thailand cease prosecuting criminal defamation cases against researchers or journalists who report on human trafficking, and recognise the valuable role of NGOs and workers’ organisations in uncovering the nature and scope of human trafficking in Thailand.”
Natural Fruit has filed multiple criminal and civil cases against Mr Hall since February 2013 as a result of his contribution to a FinnWatch report that accused the company of serious human rights violations, based on workers’ interviews.
This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on 20 July 2015.