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The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and UN High Commissioner on Refugees to stop and eliminate statelessness problems in Thailand 06/06/2012test

On 5th June 2012 at Central World Department Store in Bangkok, the National
Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) and the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) jointly launched a new publication in Thai language, ‘Handbook for Thai People on Section 23 of the Nationality Act (No.4) B.E. 2551 (2008),’ written by Mr. Venus Seesuk for government officials and NGO staffs working in the field, helping them gain confidence in their work to assist stateless persons.

        Professor Dr. Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, said that this event was not the first time the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) collaborated with Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in South East Asia.  In 2007, the NHRCT together with the UNHCR co-hosted a seminar on Nationality and Ethnicity to share good practices in the region with participants in the seminar learning directly from each other.  A conclusion in this seminar was reached that statelessness is a transnational problem and a regional issue.  The publication launched today is an example of a means to achieve the goal.

        Professor Amara continued that “After the Second World War during the time of expansion of Communism and the period of nation building in South East Asia, governments of all countries in the region paid great attention to ‘National Security’ policy.  It was the same in Thailand where in 2008, the government used an Announcement of the Revolutionary Council to revoke nationality of those born in Thailand whose father or mother was an alien.  This Revolutionary Council Announcement greatly affected many people.  There have also been several attempts to amend the Nationality Act.”

        “Four decades have gone and there were many changes, including globalization, collapse of Communism, and recognition of civil rights, political rights, economic rights, social rights and cultural rights, traditional national security paradigm has become problematic and inappropriate. It is necessary to re-adjust relations between diverse cultural groups and the Nationality Act BE 2551 (AD 2008) reflects a form of this paradigm shift.”

         However, even with enactment of the Nationality Act B.E. 2551, turning policy into practices still faced many problems. It is therefore necessary to create understanding, rules and regulations to successfully turn the policy into practices.  This handbook is a product of the author’s five-year work with various stateless persons, devoting his time and capacity for benefits of those born on Thai territories but have not been given Thai nationality.

         Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara, a National Human Rights Commissioner, said that this handbook has raised at least two useful facts.

         Firstly, it re-emphasizes that transformation from using the culture of power to using culture of knowledge to create fairness in society is likely to be the best solution for challenges in Thai society where at present the people are greatly suffering from uses of power and prejudices that are misdeeds without taking into consideration violation of human rights of disadvantaged and marginalized people who have no access to certain useful ‘rights’. 

         This publication is an academic product of which its value is derived from combination of the author’s thorough knowledge of relevant legal context and his experiences being an official in the Ministry of Interior working skillfully in the situation where human rights violation occurred against Thai people who were entitled to obtain Thai nationality according to the old principle. Section 23 of the Nationality Act (No. 4) B.E. 2551 offers clear guidelines for actions based on the rule of law.  Several examples are given to confidently ensure that rights and liberties provided by the Constitution are protected by the state in its enforcement of the law for peace among the people.

         Secondly, existence of ten thousands of ‘Thai people according to Section 23’ in Thai society reflects that Thai people have to change their incorrect way of thinking about the state being ‘One State – One Nation’ of which their consciousness and paradigm about a nation state in cultural dimension has been based and systematically organized in the last hundred years or so. As time has changed along globalization, truth as occurred nowadays about rights and personal status of Thai people is that they come from diverse races and ethnicities, each of which has human rights and human dignity that their State must safeguard and protect. 

         Anyone interested in this publication, can request for it without charge at Office of the UNHCR.

         In addition, on that same day, the NHRCT and UNHCR also jointly opened a photograph exhibition titled ‘Stateless Persons: Non-Existent in Every Worldview’ by Greg Constantin, an American award-winning photographer who spent more than six years taking photographs and recording stories of stateless persons all around the world.   This photographic exhibition was opened to the public on June 5-10, 2012 from 10 am. to 9 pm. on third floor, Zone Eden of the Central World Department Store. 



Thai Law Reform Commission visited the NHRCT to discuss the NHRCT Act

         On 6th June 2012, Mr. Sukhumpong Ngonkham, a Thai Law Reform Commissioner and Chairman of a Specific Committee on Checking Use of State Power, visited the National Human Rights Commission.  He was welcomed by Professor Dr. Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, and Mr. Paiboon Varahapaitoon, a National Human Rights Commissioner together with Mr. Veeravit Veeravoravit, Acting Secretary General of the National Human Rights Commission.  The discussion was also observed by office staffs of the National Human Rights Commission.

         Purpose of this visit was to discuss and give recommendations about a National Human Rights Commission Bill B.E. …  Issues being discussed included a process for selecting the National Human Rights Commission, complaint mechanism, authority to take a case to court on behalf of victim, Human Rights Fund, and independence of Office of the National Human Rights Commission.  The Thai Law Reform Commission recommended improvement of certain wordings in the National Human Rights Commission Bill for convenience in an operation of the National Human Rights Commission and office of the National Human Rights Commission in its functions to promote, safeguard and protect human rights.  At present, the National Human Rights Commission Bill B.E. … is waiting for consideration of the House of Representatives to approve in principle.

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