Caption: A protest by Bad Students on 5 September 2020 Source: Prachatai

Thai student groups submit report for Universal Periodic Review

This November, the Thai government will have to answer all concerns expressed by UN Members over human rights violations in the country. For the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), student groups in Thailand have submitted a report to the Working Group, revealing that the Thai government has not delivered on the promises made to the international community 5 years ago.

The report was submitted by the SHero Youth Network, United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), Student Union of Thailand (SUT), Bad Students, Ratsadon, UNME of Anarchy, Nisit Chula Party, and ROOT.

According to the report, the Thai government accepted 13 out of 24 recommendations during the 2nd UPR Cycle in 2016. However, they have not made any progress when it comes to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the lèse majesté law, human rights defenders, and enforced disappearances.

For example, the report says that the Thai government accepted a recommendation from Costa Rica to ensure “the rights of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, especially in the context of peaceful protests.”

However, the Thai government has “imposed excessive restrictions” against peaceful protest as well as treating unarmed protesters with chemical-laced salvos from water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets.

Thailand also accepted a recommendation from Guatemala to respect freedom of the press and freedom of expression. But instead of following the recommendation, the Thai government tried to shut down a TV channel and online outlets for their reporting on the pro-democracy protests.

With regard to human rights defenders, Thailand accepted 6 recommendations. One of them from Czech Republic asked Thailand to “stop all harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and effectively implement measures aimed at preventing violence and crimes against them.”

Instead of keeping this promise, the “Thai government has threatened to use all possible laws and measures against the pro-democracy protesters including child and youth human rights defenders,” says the report.

Not only does the report say that the Thai government has failed to follow the recommendations they accepted from other countries, but also that its lèse majesté law and the enforced disappearance of the political activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit constitute violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Thailand ratified in 1996.

For more detail, the report can be accessed here.

According to the UPR process, a letter by the Human Rights Council will be sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Thai government will then have to submit its national report by July.

Tentatively, on 10 November, the Thai government will have to answer to the UPR Working Group consisting of 47 State Members of the Human Rights Council. Other UN members can also participate in the dialogue with the reviewed state.

To help with facilitation, a reviewed country will have three countries to assist them as rapporteurs. The three facilitating countries are called a ‘troika’ and come from drawing lots. In the case of Thailand, the troika members are Côte d'Ivoire, China, and Bulgaria.


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