Reverse the legacy of five years of military rule

Press release

(Bangkok, Paris) Thailand’s new government and Parliament must put human rights at the forefront of their agenda and reverse the legacy of abuses committed under the rule of the military junta, FIDH and its member organizations Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) said today. The joint call was made on the eve of the five-year anniversary of Thailand’s latest military coup d’état, which took place on 22 May 2014.

“The junta has been directly responsible for the sharp deterioration of the human rights situation in Thailand. After five years of military rule, the new government needs to make a clean break from the junta’s rule and put human rights at the top of its agenda.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

FIDH, UCL, and iLaw call on the new government to immediately lift all restrictions on human rights introduced by the military junta which are inconsistent with Thailand’s international obligations under human rights treaties to which it is a state party. This includes National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Orders 3/2015, 13/2016, and 41/2016, and NCPO Announcements 97/2014 and 103/2014. Since the May 2014 coup, authorities have frequently used these decrees to violate the fundamental right to personal liberty, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. On 7 May 2019, junta head General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that NCPO decrees had “not caused any damage” and announced that 65 of them would become permanent laws.

The new government should also promptly put an end to the use of military courts to try civilians for alleged offenses committed before 12 September 2016. According to the Judge Advocate-General’s Department, there are 281 cases still pending in military courts. In recent weeks, 15 pro-democracy activists and Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, known for his staunch opposition to the military junta, have been charged under Article 116 (‘sedition’) of the Thai Criminal Code in connection with events that took place in June 2015. They all face military trials.

“Military courts for trials of civilians and repressive orders have no place in a country whose government claims to have a democratic mandate. We expect no less than a total repeal of the junta’s policies and actions by the new government.”

Jon Ungpakorn, iLaw Executive Director

FIDH, UCL, and iLaw also urge the new government to conduct thorough, impartial, and independent investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial killings and to bring justice to the victims.

The new government should also make progress towards the abolition of the death penalty, by declaring an official moratorium on executions.

With the forthcoming return of elected Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Representatives, FIDH, UCL, and iLaw call on the new Parliament to amend problematic laws, such as the Public Assembly Act, the Computer Crimes Act, and defamation provisions in the Criminal Code to bring them into line with international standards. The new Parliament should also adopt the Bill on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance and the draft Civil Partnership Bill and ensure their compliance with international standards.

Finally, the three organizations call on the new Parliament to improve prison conditions by guaranteeing that prisons across Thailand are fully compliant with the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (’Nelson Mandela Rules’) and the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (’Bangkok Rules’).

“After almost five years of a junta-appointed rubber-stamp Parliament, we expect this new legislature to hold genuine debates, be mindful of international standards, and enact substantial legislative reforms.”

Nikorn Veesapen, UCL Chair
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