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Relationships between companies and campaigners have evolved over the last few years. Still often adversaries, multinationals and NGOs now also work together towards common sustainability goals.

Now, a case in Thailand has arguably taken the idea of collaboration to a new level. Could it mark a move towards cooperation where companies and campaigners watch each other’s backs, as well as work towards mutual goals?

The Thai case concerns Andy Hall, a human rights campaigner who carried out some field research on behalf of Finnish corporate responsibility watchdog Finnwatch. The resulting Finnwatch report found human rights violations on the part of Natural Fruit Co, a Thai company that supplies a number of Finnish retailers.

So far, so straightforward: a case of abuses uncovered in the supply chain that the western brands involved pledged to put right. The Finnwatch report also looked at two Thai tuna processing companies where serious violations were found.

But while the tuna companies provided full responses to the report, refuting some allegations and promising to check or make changes in respect of others, Natural Fruit decided to go after Hall, who lives in Thailand. It filed criminal defamation charges against him in 2013, with the threat of several years’ jail time. The resulting case has dragged on ever since.

By Stephen Gardner. Read the article in full at Innovation Forum.

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