Thailand’s Supreme Court has closed the book on the saga of Andy Hall, a corporate responsibility researcher from watchdog Finnwatch. The court has cleared him of charges in a years-long defamation case.
A four-year suspended sentence against Hall was dismissed. This had been imposed in 2016 when he was found guilty of criminal defamation and computer crimes linked to a 2013 report on the local fruit processing industry, “Cheap Has a High Price”.
In addition to the suspended sentence, the Bangkok South Criminal Court also fined Hall 150,000 baht, or about €4,300. Hall appealed the sentence and in 2018 an appeal court overturned the verdict of the lower court.
Finnwatch said in a statement on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had upheld the appellate court’s decision to acquit Hall of the charges, which were brought by pineapple producer Natural Fruit in 2013 after the publication of the report.
'Labour law reforms still necessary'
The contested report alleged that workers had been subjected to labour and human rights abuses by the manufacturer of pineapple juice widely sold in Finland and other EU countries. The company eventually filed a total of four lawsuits against the rights investigator.
Following the conclusion of the case, Finnwatch called on Thailand to introduce labour rights reforms. "Researching human rights violations is not a crime," Finnwatch executive director Sonja Finér told yle.fi.