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UN Body 'Seriously Concerned' About Human Rights in Thailand

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
BANGKOK: The United Nations Human Rights Office for South East Asia (OHCHR) is seriously concerned about increasing restrictions on human rights defenders in exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and expression in Thailand.

On Tuesday, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, a local human rights organisation, announced the cancellation of an event to release its report on the human rights situation after the May 22 coup in Thailand.

The organisers reportedly received phone calls and a letter from the military requesting them to cancel the event. The communications indicated that the event would be considered a violation of Announcement No. 7/2557 of the National Council for Peace and Order, prohibiting political gatherings of more than five people.

The cancellation of this event adds to other incidents indicating a deteriorating environment for human rights defenders in the country.

In early August, Amnesty International-Thailand was invited to a police station and requested to cancel their planned public events to campaign for the protection of civilians in Gaza.

In August, Ms Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, a prominent human rights defender and the director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation, was summoned by the police for a defamation complaint filed by the army in response to allegations she raised of torture in one case in the south of Thailand.

OHCHR has raised concerns directly with the Government and reiterates its call to the Government to comply with its international human rights obligations.

Thailand has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Further, as a member of the United Nations, it should respect the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which provides that everyone has the right to conduct human rights work individually and in association with others (article 1) and provides the right to discuss and bring public attention to human rights situations (article 6).

Declaration of Interest: Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian face a continuing trial in March over criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges brought by the Royal Thai Navy, citing a 41-word paragraph from a Pulitzer prize-winning Reuters report on the Rohingya boatpeople. The charges were laid before the military takeover in Thailand.

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International human rights obligations and free speech and expression no longer exist in Thailand. Martial law has locked it out. Shameful.

Posted by Pete on September 3, 2014 18:15


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