Andy Hall leaves, 'fears for his safety'
7 Nov 2016 at 06:59
WRITER: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION
Prominent British rights activist Andy Hall left Thailand early on Monday, saying he feared for his safety amidst legal problems and growing harassment from companies that have been "irrational, vindictive and aggressive".
Mr Hall, who has worked on the rights of migrant workers in Thailand for 11 years, has recently faced defamation lawsuits by companies he has accused of labour violations.
"The situation is not good right now," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Sunday before his flight, speaking from Mahachai, a town near Bangkok and the centre of Thailand's seafood processing industry.
"It's rapidly deteriorating. It doesn't feel safe. There are people who are intent on wearing me down. I've worked with so many companies in Thailand, and it's rare to have a company that is so irrational and so vindictive. It's enough to wear anyone down."
In September, Mr Hall was handed a suspended three-year jail term and fined 150,000 baht ($4,300) for criminally defaming Natural Fruit Company, a pineapple wholesaler that supplies the European Union.
Rights groups called the verdict an alarming precedent in the fight against labour exploitation.
Emboldened by the ruling, a chicken farmer who lost his EU contracts and had to shut down his 1.6 million-chicken operation after Mr Hall exposed alleged labour violations on one of his three farms, said he planned to pursue his own defamation case and has hired the Natural Fruit lawyer...
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