British activist investigating migrant labour abuses fighting to avoid Thai jail term
BANGKOK (AFP) - A British activist who could face up to seven years in a Thai prison for his investigation into alleged migrant labour abuses has decried the charges as a politically motivated attempt to silence him.
Andy Hall, a migrant consultant for the EU-funded International Management Group (IMG) and an advisor to the Myanmar government, faces civil and criminal lawsuits submitted against him by Thai fruit processor Natural Fruit, a major supplier to the European drink market.
The legal action follows a recent report Hall prepared for Finnish rights watchdog Finnwatch which accused Natural Fruit of using forced and child labour, involvement in human trafficking, unlawfully low wages and long hours.
Thailand faces a possible downgrade in the annual US Trafficking in Persons report to "Tier 3" - on a par with countries such as Algeria, Cuba and Libya - for failing to do enough to tackle such problems.