Amnesty's annual report: Thailand’s freedom in decline, human rights not yet a national agenda as govt claimed

22 February 2018


In the wake of the launch of ‘Amnesty International Report 2017/2018: The State of the World’s Human Rights’ which documents and analyzes the state of human rights in 159 countries around the world in the past 2017, it was found - countries including Thailand have imposed severe restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.


Amnesty International has found in 2017, human rights defenders; environmental activists; students; villagers demanding community rights; lawyers; media; academics; and active citizens in Thailand continued to endure a strenuous clampdown on their freedom of expression, either by the state or private sector. Among the laws that have often been invoked are Section 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution; Section 116 of the Penal Code; the Computer-related Crimes Act; and the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558, which contain provisions or are interpreted not in compliance with international human rights standards that Thailand is obliged to follow. 


In 2017, Thailand continues to adopt forced deportation of individuals to countries where they are seriously at risk of being arrested, imprisoned, torture, and killing or having to stand in an unfair trial. Forced return isa breach to the principle of non-refoulement, recognized as customary international law. Nevertheless, the Thai cabinet has given a nod to the development of a refugee screening mechanism, which, if implemented on par with international standards in the future, would be considered a major step forward of the country. 


In addition, Amnesty International’s report sheds light several other major human rights violations in Thailand concerning the judicial process, impunity, enforced disappearance, torture while in custody, extrajudicial killing and trafficking in person. 


Amnesty International Thailand’s Director, Ms. Piyanut Kotsan, notes that what have happened are a clear testament that the Thai government has not placed genuine importance on human rights, despite its recent announcement to declare human rights a national agenda and a driving force behind Thailand 4.0.


“Amnesty International welcomes news that the Thai government declares human rights a national agendaand human rights a driving force behind Thailand 4.0 to ensure sustainable development. But what have happened in reality are on the contrary; human rights violations continue unabated, a number of people have been harassed and arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted simply for expressing themselves peacefully. There have also been other human rights issues mentioned in our report and have been exposed to the public in the past year” said Piyanut, Amnesty Thailand’s Director.


Apart from Thailand, Amnesty International has found human rights violations have taken place in most of the countries around the world including developed and developing nations and under whichever political systems. Millions of people around the world are subjected to impoverishment, starvation, or being refugees as a result of the economic injustice, conflicts, and natural disasters. Meanwhile, segregation and discrimination based on reason of race, religion, gender, and political belief have contributed to a loss of a massive number of lives. 


2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted at the UN General Assembly in 1948 and Thailand was one among the countries that initially voted to adopt it. Amnesty International believes this should be a good opportunity for Thailand and other countries to review their social problems and to collectively explore the solutions. 


“Thailand must recognize international human rights standards to be in line with other human rights-minded countries. On the 70th anniversary of the UDHR, it should be the time for all of us to take stock of what has happened with our human rights, to review how much progress and regress we have made in order to explore possible solutions together. This has prompted us to organize today’s panel discussion on human rights education as we realize it can be an important tool to help Thailand overcome social injustice and inequality in a long run. Amnesty International looks forward to receiving cooperation from all sectors to push through our program on human rights education and to meet other demands to elevate our human rights on par with international standards” said Piyanut, Amnesty Thailand’s Director.


Amnesty International calls on the Thai authorities to revoke the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558and other repressive laws that infringe on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to bring an end to arbitrary detention, to stop trying civilians in the military court, to enact the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act, to protect human rights defenders and ensure that they can work in a safe and enabling environment, to respect the principle of non-refoulement, and to further develop the refugee screening mechanism and bring it on par with international standards. Amnesty International always looks forward to genuinely cooperating with the Thai authorities in order to address the problems and to enhance social development.