More shadows than lights in political parties’ human rights commitments

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(Paris) Thailand’s political parties’ lack of strong commitments on key issues does not bode well for the human rights situation after the 24 March general election, FIDH warns in a new report released today.

The 30-page report, titled “ More shadows than lights – Thailand’s political parties and their human rights commitments ,” provides new information on parties’ attitudes and commitment towards key human rights issues.

“After five years of repressive military rule, it is disappointing that most of Thailand’s political parties have failed to make bold human rights commitments. Their tepid commitments towards human rights are an alarming indication that Thailand’s challenges will continue beyond 24 March.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

The report is based on the findings of a survey conducted by FIDH among 32 Thai political parties. The survey revealed that, despite some positive commitments regarding human rights defenders, detention conditions, and refugees and asylum seekers, political parties were reluctant to address some of the most critical issues impacting human rights and democratic principles in Thailand.

The survey found little support from political parties for measures aimed at improving the enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Only a small minority favored the amendment of criminal defamation laws, while the overwhelming majority did not support the removal of jail terms for violators of Article 112 of the Criminal Code (lèse-majesté). Disappointingly, the majority of political parties expressed strong support for the death penalty. As Thailand remains mired in a culture of deeply entrenched impunity, it was equally discouraging to note the political parties’ lack of enthusiasm for impartial investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations, including in Thailand’s ‘Deep South.’

The survey also revealed reluctance to limit the role of the military in Thailand’s political affairs. Less than half of the parties surveyed said they would significantly reduce the military’s budget, and only a few parties saw security sector reform as a main priority for the next government.

On a more positive note, the survey showed that the majority of the parties support legislation that incorporates the principle of non-refoulement for refugees and asylum seekers. Half of the political parties favored adopting concrete measure to address Thailand’s abysmal prison conditions by incorporating provisions of international standards related to the treatment of prisoners into domestic legislation. The survey also highlighted the political parties’ support for regular engagement with human rights defenders.

The numerous recommendations contained in the report provide a clear agenda for parliamentary action to concretely address Thailand’s key human rights issues after the election.

Press contact
FIDH: Ms. Eva Canan (English, French) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
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