Thailand: Britischer Aktivisten wegen angeblicher krimineller Diffamierung vor Gericht

16. Mai 2016 – Update #1 zu RAN 01/16

Der internationale PEN fordert die thailändischen Behörden dazu auf, alle Aklagepunkte gegen den britischen Aktivisten Andy Hall, der sich für die Rechte von Migranten einsetzt, fallenzulassen. Nach der Entscheidung eines Bangkoker Gerichts am 18. Januar 2016 sieht sich Hall einer Anklage wegen „krimineller Verleumdung“ und „Computerkriminalität“ gegenüber. Die Anklage steht im Zusammenhang mit einem von Finnwatch im Jahr 2013 veröffentlichten Artikel. Im Falle einer Verurteilung droht Hall eine Haftstrafe von bis zu sieben Jahren.

Andy Hall (Quelle: PEN International)

Andy Hall (Quelle: PEN International)

Der internationale PEN geht davon aus, dass die Anklage gegen Hall unmittelbar mit seiner friedlichen und legitimen Arbeit als Anwalt für Migrantenrechte zusammenhängt und ruft daher dazu auf, dass sämtliche Anklagepunkte unmittelbar und bedingungslos fallengelassen werden.

Unternehmen Sie etwas!

Bitte schreiben Sie Protestbriefe:

  • Fordern Sie, dass sämtliche Anklagepunkte gegen Andy Hall unmittelbar und bedingungslos fallengelassen werden, da sie gegen sein Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung verstoßen, das durch die Artikel 9 und 19 des UN-Zivilpakts garantiert wird, zu dessen Unterzeichnern Thailand zählt.
  • Wiederholen Sie die Sorge, dass der Vorwurf von „krimineller Verleumdung“ und „Computerkriminalität“ dazu genutzt wird, kritische Stimmen zum Verstummen zu bringen.
  • Drängen Sie die thailändischen Behörden dazu, das Strafgesetzbuch anzupassen, sodass es mit den internationalen Verpflichtungen Thailands zum Schutz von freier Meinungsäußerung im Einklang steht.

Schreiben Sie an:

I.E. die Botschafterin von Thailand
Frau Nongnuth Phetcharatana
Königlich Thailändische Botschaft
Lepsiusstrasse 64-66
12163 Berlin
general [at] thaiembassy [dot] de

Öffentlichkeit erzeugen!

Wir möchten PEN-Mitglieder dazu ermutigen, Artikel oder Stellungnahmen in überregionalen oder lokalen Medien zu veröffentlichen und auf das Schicksal von Andy Hall und die Situation der Meinungsfreiheit in Thailand aufmerksam zu machen.

Hintergrund (bereitgestellt vom internationalen PEN)

British rights activist and blogger, Andy Hall, was charged with criminal defamation, as well as offences under the Computer Crimes Act, after publishing a report on alleged abuses of migrant workers committed by the Natural Fruit Company Limited, a fruit processing company in Thailand.

The report, published in late 2012, by the Finnish NGO Finnwatch, in connection to a report published in 2013 entitled, Cheap has a high price: Responsibility problems relating to international private label products and food production in Thailand, focuses on production practices of juices and fruit sold in Finland, and was reportedly based on interviews with employees, many of them undocumented migrants from Myanmar, who suffered labour rights abuses, from poor working conditions to child labour. Natural Fruit has denied the allegations.

Andy Hall was the lead researcher of the report, while working as Associate Researcher at Mahidol University in Thailand, and was responsible for coordinating the field research and conducting interviews with migrant workers from Myanmar, with the help of a team of others.

In its prosecution documents, Natural Fruit cites the presence of Hall’s name alongside others on the front page of an English Executive Summary of the report as evidence of Hall’s ownership and responsibility for the report as well as alleging that he was involved in the dissemination of the report on Finnwatch’s website –allegations denied by Finnwatch, who have asserted that they are the authors of the report and that Hall has no access to their website. Finnwatch have condemned National Fruit’s choice to prosecute a private individual instead of the organisation that authored and bears responsibility for the report.

Charges were first filed against Hall in February 2013. On 18 September 2015, an appeals court dismissed one case of defamation filed against him by the Natural Fruit Company, ruling that neither the Natural Fruit Company nor state prosecutors had grounds to sue for defamation in Thailand. Natural Fruit are reported to be appealing the ruling at the Supreme Court.

At a bail hearing held on 13 January 2016, a Bangkok court imposed a travel ban upon him and confiscated Hall’s passport. He was formally indicted on charges of criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crimes Act relating to the Finnwatch report on 18 January 2016. The criminal charges in this case carry a maximum combined penalty of seven years’ imprisonment in addition to possible fines.

Hall’s trial is due to begin on 19 May 2016, where the court is expected to hear testimony of prosecution witnesses for three days. Testimony of the defence is expected to be heard over eight days in June and July. The final ruling in the case is expected in September 2016.

Two cases of civil defamation remain pending against Hall, with damages of over US$13 million being sought. As these two cases are intrinsically linked to the criminal cases, rulings are dependent on their outcomes.

In May 2014, Thailand underwent its 12th successful military coup d’état since 1932 following almost seven months of escalating political violence. The coup imposed martial law and a curfew, dissolved the Senate – the only remaining national government body with elected members – and granted wide-ranging executive and legislative powers to its military leaders. In the wake of the coup tight control of the media was imposed; many television and radio stations were shut down and journalists and academics arrested. Martial law was finally revoked in March 2015.

UN human rights mechanisms have repeatedly clarified that criminal defamation and insult laws, including lèse-majesté laws such as those imposed in Thailand are incompatible with international standards on free expression.  In 2011, the then UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue called on Thailand to reform its lèse-majesté laws. He said, “The threat of a long prison sentence and vagueness of what kinds of expression constitute defamation, insult, or threat to the monarchy, encourage self-censorship and stifle important debates on matters of public interest, thus putting in jeopardy the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”