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Thailand: Government unwilling to address systematic human rights violations at UN-backed review

FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
and its member organizations in Thailand
Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)
Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw)
Joint press release
Thailand: Government unwilling to address systematic human rights violations at UN-backed review
Paris, Bangkok, 22 September 2016: The Thai government has shown its unwillingness to address serious and systematic human rights violations during Thailand’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), FIDH and its member organizations Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) said today.
The outcome of Thailand’s second UPR will be officially adopted on 23 September 2016 during the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Considering the severe deterioration of Thailand’s human rights situation since the 2014 military coup, the government’s refusal to address recommendations on key civil and political rights is extremely troubling,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.
During its second UPR, Thailand accepted 187 of the 249 recommendations it received from other UN member states.[1] Despite accepting 75% of the recommendations it received, the government failed to make commitments towards the implementation of key recommendations concerning: the right to liberty; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to peaceful assembly; and the right to a fair trial. While conceding that restrictions on these rights were “unnecessary limitations,” the government stated there would only be a progressive lifting of such measures when “the situation improves.”
The government failed to accept any of the five recommendations that called for an end to arbitrary detentions, the abusive practice of ‘attitude adjustment’ sessions, and the use of military facilities as detention centers for civilians. Thailand also “noted” all 12 recommendations that called for an end to military trials of civilians.
The government did not accept 15 of the 26 recommendations that called on the authorities to guarantee and respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly. Among the recommendations that did not garner the Thai government’s support, seven recommendations called for the repeal or amendment of Article 112 of the Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) and to end its abuse to limit freedom of expression. An additional “noted” recommendation called for the abolition of mandatory minimum jail sentences under Article 112.
The government also refused to accept several recommendations that called for the repeal of orders issued by the ruling military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) that are inconsistent with Thailand’s international human rights obligations. The government claimed it needed to maintain repressive laws and NCPO orders “to ensure social harmony and [a] peaceful environment” and incredibly denied that such laws and orders were designed “to intimidate dissenting voices or go against the principles of the rights to freedom of expression and of assembly.”
“Instead of taking the UPR seriously, the Thai government has used the process to try to justify ongoing human rights violations rather than making commitments to address them. The government’s dismissal of crucial recommendations shows its complete disregard for Thailand’s international human rights obligations,” said iLaw Executive Director Jon Ungpakorn.
With regard to the death penalty, while pledging to commute death sentences and review the imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offenses, the government did not accept 12 recommendations that either called for the abolition of capital punishment or encompassed measures aimed at making progress towards that goal. The recommendations included: the establishment of a moratorium on all executions; the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and the removal of economic crimes from the list of offenses punishable by death. The government said it would consider these recommendations “in subsequent UPR cycles.”
“Thailand is inexplicably dragging its feet on the abolition of the death penalty. Despite repeated assurances by successive Thai governments that Thailand would consider abolishing capital punishment, it is regrettable that the goal of actual abolition is likely to remain unfulfilled for many years to come,” said UCL Senior Advisor Danthong Breen.
Finally, in the area of the ratification of international human rights treaties, the government did not accept recommendations that called for Thailand to become a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG), and the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW).
FIDH, UCL, and iLaw reiterate their call for the Thai government to lift all restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental civil and political rights in accordance with the recommendations it received and in compliance with its obligations under core international human rights instruments.
Press contacts:
Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33672284294 (Paris)
[1] Of the 187 recommendations that enjoyed Thailand’s support, the government accepted 181 in May 2016 and six in August 2016.
The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, is an international human rights NGO representing 184 organizations from close to 120 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

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