Failing grade urged over key human rights issues

Press release

(Bangkok, Geneva, Paris) A United Nations (UN) human rights body should give Thailand a failing grade in its upcoming follow-up review of the country’s civil and political rights situation, FIDH and its member organizations Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) said today.

In conjunction with their call, FIDH, UCL, and iLaw submitted a follow-up shadow report to the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR), in which they detailed the Thai government’s failure to implement the recommendations made on three priority issues by the CCPR: 1) The constitution and the country’s legal framework; 2) Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture; and 3) Conditions of detention.

“With regard to key recommendations made by the UN, the Thai government has either failed to implement them, or actively taken measures that go against them. This resounding failure speaks volumes about the military junta’s lack of commitment to upholding civil and political rights, which has been recently underscored by the resumption of executions.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

The Thai government submitted its follow-up report to the CCPR in July 2018. The CCPR is expected to consider the government’s follow-up report next year in Geneva, Switzerland. The CCPR monitors states parties’ compliance with their legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Thailand is a state party to the ICCPR.

With regard to the country’s legal framework, Thailand has taken measures that are contrary to the CCPR’s recommendations, which called on the government to ensure that any measures stemming from the 2014 interim constitution and the 2017 constitution are consistent with its obligations under the ICCPR, including the obligation to provide effective remedies to victims of human rights violations. However, Article 265 of the 2017 constitution authorizes the Head of the ruling military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to continue to exercise absolute power under Article 44 of the 2014 interim constitution until a new government takes office after the next general election. In addition, under Article 279 of the 2017 constitution, all announcements, orders, and acts of the NCPO and the Head of the NCPO already in force continue to be constitutional and lawful. Lastly, all repressive orders and announcements that are not in compliance with Thailand’s obligations under the ICCPR have remained in place.

The Thai government also failed to implement the CCPR’s recommendations on torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances. Reports of these types of human rights violations persist, as do reports of impunity for perpetrators of such violations due to inadequate investigations concerning these cases, contrary to Thailand’s obligations under the ICCPR.

“Under the military junta, Thailand has witnessed a breakdown of the rule of law and a severe deterioration of its human rights situation. The UN should send the junta a strong and unequivocal message that actions, not words, are urgently needed to restore the Thai people’s full enjoyment of civil and political rights.”

Jon Ungpakorn, iLaw Executive Director

With regard to detention conditions, Thailand has failed to take tangible steps to reduce prison overcrowding, guarantee that detainees are treated with humanity and dignity, or ensure that conditions of detention in all Thai jails are in line with international standards, as recommended by the CCPR.

“The 25% increase in Thailand’s prison population since the UN review in March 2017 has exacerbated the chronic overcrowding and resulted in the further deterioration of detention conditions. With three-quarters of inmates behind bars on drug charges, the Thai government has failed to enact reforms, such as decriminalizing certain drug-related offenses, that would significantly reduce prison overcrowding.”

Danthong Breen, UCL Senior Advisor

The situation of civil and political rights in Thailand was examined by the CCPR on 13-14 March 2017 in Geneva. Following the review, the CCPR issued its Concluding Observations, which echoed many of the concerns and recommendations contained in “Under siege - Violations of civil and political rights under Thailand’s military junta,” a report released by FIDH, UCL, and iLaw ahead of the CCPR review. The report documented the wide-ranging, negative impact of military rule on the country’s civil and political rights situation following the 22 May 2014 coup d’état.

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