Four human rights organizations have published an open letter to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, highlighting 10 key human rights priorities remaining unaddressed under previous administrations, from space for civil society and accountability for extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances to gender equality, and urged the new government to begin the implementation of their recommendations within the first 100 days in office.
During a protest demanding the release of political prisoners, activist Tantawan Tuatulanon wore an inmate uniform and chains around her neck. She lied down in front of the Police Hospital and let other activist covered her in red paint while pieces of paper with names of political prisoners are scattered around her. (Photo by Ginger Cat)
In a letter sent to Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, FIDH highlighted 10 key human rights priorities that remained unaddressed under previous administrations. This deliberate negligence significantly worsened Thailand’s human rights record and contributed to the country’s failure to secure a seat on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council for the 2015-2017 term.
Paris, 5 September 2023. Thailand’s new government should prioritize important and long-standing human rights issues during its term in office, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), and the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) urged today.
“The new government has an opportunity to reverse Thailand’s downward human rights trend by addressing decades of serious abuses and related impunity. A failure to tackle the disastrous human rights legacy of the 2014 military coup and General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s rule will have negative implications for the Thai people and Thailand’s international reputation,” said FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan.
FIDH identified and selected the human rights priorities by analyzing recurring recommendations that Thailand received from various UN human rights monitoring mechanisms over the course of nearly two decades. Based on this analysis, FIDH made practical recommendations on the following issues: space for civil society organizations and human rights defenders; accountability for extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances; protection of refugees and asylum seekers; amendment of problematic laws; improvement of prison conditions; the situation in the Southern Border Provinces; the death penalty; and gender equality.
FIDH calls on Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his administration to take significant steps during the first 100 days in office in order to place the above-referenced issues at the core of the government’s human rights agenda and chart the process of implementation of the associated recommendations. This would also ensure that Thailand will be a strong candidate for UN Human Rights Council membership for the 2025-2027 term.
The general election held on 14 May 2023 was the first since the youth-led pro-democracy demonstrations that swept across Thailand in 2020 demanding deep, structural reforms of the country’s political and socio-economic system. The 75.7% voter turnout was the highest ever record in a Thai general election.
On 13 July 2023, Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), which emerged as the largest party in Parliament by securing 151 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives, failed to receive enough support by the House of Representatives and the Senate to become Prime Minister. Under Thailand’s military-backed 2017 Constitution, a prime minister must receive the majority in a vote by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, whose 250 members were appointed by the military junta that seized power in the May 2014 coup d’etat. Only 13 senators voted for Pita Limjaroenrat on 13 July.
On 22 August 2023, Srettha Thavisin, one of the three prime ministerial candidates of the Pheua Thai Party (PT) – the second biggest party in Parliament – was elected Prime Minister with the support of elected representatives from 14 other political parties (excluding the MFP) and more than half of the senators. On 23 August 2023, he became Prime Minister upon receiving the official endorsement by King Rama X.
The previous administration under Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha and the military-backed Palang Pracharat Party (PRPP), which came to power after the deeply flawed March 2019 general election, continued many of the repressive policies and actions that had been put in place by the military junta headed by General Prayuth himself.