The Thai national rights agency has announced a list of seven candidates to replace the old human rights commissioners while a human researcher raised question whether most candidates are qualified as human rights defenders.
On Tuesday, 21 July 2015, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) announced the list of seven new members of the NHRC, who will be replacing the old NHRC members who have been in office since June 2009.
The list of seven candidates approved by the NHCR selection committee will be sent to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for approval.
The seven are NHRC candidates are;
- Chatsuda Chandeeying
- Baworn Yasinthorn
- Prakayrat Tonteerawong
- Wat Tingsamid
- Supachai Thanomsap
- Surachet Satidniramai
- Aungkana Neelapaijit
One of the seven candidates, Baworn Yasinthorn is a leader of an ultra-royalist group who called themselves Citizens Volunteer For Defence Of Three Institutes Network.
In April 2010, the ultra-royalist group filed charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, lese majeste law, against Wuttipong K., aka. Ko Tee, one of the hardcore red shirt leaders from Nonthaburi Province for allegedly defaming the Thai King during an interview with Vice News.
Prior to the 2014 coup d’état, Baworn was also one of the prominent supporters of People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
According to Chutimas Suksai, an independent human rights researcher, most of the seven candidates do not have much backgrounds on human rights.
“It seems as if the seats in the NHRC are for retired civil servants who want to continue maintaining their public posts,” said Chitima. “A candidate, such as Baworn even has records of abusing others’ rights in freedom of thoughts and expression.”
She added that the selection processes of the NHRC commissioners are not transparent and far from adequate since most the people in the selection committee do not have backgrounds in human rights either.
“I think the past two human rights commissioners have been elected as a rubber stamp. The selection process does not allow people and human rights private organizations to monitor and participate in the selection process,” an independent human rights researcher told Prachatai.
In brief, Section 8 the 1999 National Human Rights Commission Act on the selection of NHRC members states that private organizations shall select 10 representatives among human rights CSOs and NGOs to participate in selection processes.
Chutimas concluded "NHRC is a place for the Junta or the elite to make sure that the NHRC will not function by extending civil officials' shelf life at the people's expenses. The NHRC is important for the poor and underprivileged, thus I would like to see a reaction from people who are using the NHRC mechanism, to stand up and protect a sliver of human rights space."