David Martin and his fellow Labour MEPs have demanded Thailand ends its harassment of a British human rights activist facing seven years in jail whose trial begins on Monday (18 January).
Andy Hall is being tried by the authorities for criminal defamation and 'computer crimes' after raising instances of modern slavery in Thailand. He has fought to protect human rights in south east Asia for the past 10 years and took part in key research which documented the dreadful treatment of migrant workers in a large Thai company.
In October last year Scottish MEP David Martin pressed for an urgency debate and resolution on Thailand to focus on the case of the researcher whose passport has been confiscated by the Thai authorities. Andy is facing four separate charges for highlighting the abuse of migrant workers following interviews he conducted with workers in production factories which revealed testimony of clear labour violations.
"The harassment that Andy has faced from the Thai authorities, simply for criticising the labour conditions of a fruit company in Thailand, is completely unacceptable. We must keep the protection of human rights defenders at the top of the EU agenda" said Mr Martin, who is a member of the European Parliament's human rights subcommittee.
"That is why I have raised this issue directly with Thai parliamentarians, as well as the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, to ensure this is part of our dialogue with the Thai authorities."
Mr Martin, who is the spokesperson for international trade for the Socialist and Democrat Group in the European Parliament, welcomed the 2014 suspension of negotiations between the EU and Thailand for a Free Trade Agreement following the military coup.
Mr Martin added: "We need a strong commitment from Thailand to labour rights and migrant rights before any future trade agreement is approved.
“Labour MEPs will continue to call for decent working rights for all workers across the globe.”
Andy Hall added:
"I have surrendered myself to the custody of Bangkok South Criminal Court and have requested temporary release on bail pending a criminal trial. I have surrendered my liberty and freedom of movement to the Thai justice system.
"Not only a researcher, but also the justice system is on trial. Undertaking research on migrant worker conditions and seeking to strengthen migration policy and the rule of law in Thailand should not be a crime.
"I am determined to continue my important work to promote and protect migrant rights despite this ongoing harassment."