The International Campaign for Responsible Technology is an international solidarity network that promotes corporate and government accountability in the global electronics industry. ICRT has written to Asahi Kosei and a selection of its buyers regarding the demand for damages and the legal action for libel undertaken by Asahi Kosei against Malaysian labor activist Charles Hector for publishing information about alleged labour rights violation on his blog and via twitter. ICRT shares Mr. Hector’s concerns about the way in which it appears that Asahi Kosei has failed to take responsibility for outsourced migrant workers in its Malaysian production site.
International Campaign for Responsible Technology
Connecting activists and organizations around the world to hold the electronics industry accountable
March 24, 2011
To: Asahi Kosei Japan Co. Ltd
Cc: A selection of Asahi Kosei’s customers, including Hitachi, JVC, Seagate, Sony, Toshiba.
I am writing on behalf of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT), an international solidarity network that promotes corporate and government accountability in the global electronics industry. I am writing to you regarding the flagrant human rights violations undertaken by Asahi Kosei against Malaysian labor activist Charles Hector in their legal action for libel and demand for damages for publishing information about alleged labour rights violation on his blog and via twitter. We share Mr. Hector’s concerns about the way in which it appears that Asahi Kosei has failed to take responsibility for outsourced migrant workers in its Malaysian production site.
Asahi Kosei filed a three-million defamation lawsuit against Charles Hector, human rights defender, activist, lawyer, and blogger. The company is suing Mr. Hector for defamation for raising information of human rights and worker rights violations of workers working in the said company on his blog. Information circulated came from 31 migrant workers from Burma. Before any posting, an email was sent to the company for clarification/verification, which contained also these words, “If there is anything that you would like to correct, kindly revert to me immediately. An urgent response would be appreciated. Failing to hear from you, I would take it that the allegations of the workers are true.” The company did not respond, and subsequently commenced a legal suit six days later.
The punitive lawsuit against Mr. Hector only accentuates the harsh reality of Burmese migrant workers in Malaysia, who do not speak the local language, face exploitative and indifferent employers and agents, unhelpful embassies, limited access to justice and collective bargaining and insufficient monitoring and protection from the authorities. Mr. Hector is a well-respected and credible channel for complaints of rights abuses to the public and to express concern.
It is a matter of public interest to ensure the grievances of any persons whose human rights have been violated are heard. Without it, there is no access to justice. If any persons or organization that brings legitimate grievances of migrant workers to the attention of the public risks punitive sanctions, the already precarious state of the migrant workers will most certainly deteriorate even further.
In order to restore respect for basic human rights at Asahi Kosei, we therefore urgently request you take the following actions:
1. Demand that Asahi Kosei immediately withdraw the lawsuit against Mr. Charles Hector, the threats of lawsuit against other groups, who have brought the legitimate concerns regarding violations to the attention of Asahi Kosei and the public.
2. Engage in a serious dialogue with workers, their representative and the media and human rights defenders to ensure adequate identification and remediation of any violations of labor rights and basic human rights that have occurred at Asahi Kosei.
3. Demand that Asahi Kosei ensure the immediate reinstatement, with full rights and benefits of the Burmese workers, especially those currently in hiding and not yet allowed to go back to work in Asahi Kosei’s factory.
4. Request that in order to avoid future concerns of labor and human rights violations, Asahi Kosei cease using these labor supply agents, and instead employ the thirty one Burmese workers directly under Asahi Kosei.
I would appreciate a reply acknowledging receipt of this letter. I can be contacted at [email protected].