Statement of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
Concerning 2019 Review of Human Rights in Asia-Pacific of Amnesty International
On 30 January 2020, Amnesty International publicized the Review of Human Rights in Asia-Pacific of 2019, which included the human rights situation in Thailand.
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) has examined the above report according to its mandate and responsibilities as provided for in Section 247 (4) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2560 (2017) and Section 26 (4) together with Section 44 of the Organic Act on the National Human Rights Commission B.E. 2560 (2017) and found that certain descriptions of the human rights situation in Thailand are incorrect or unfair. The NHRCT, therefore, wishes to provide correct facts and explanation on the following points:
1. Freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and the right to privacy
1.1. A claim that members of the opposition Future Forward Party faced multiple charges while its leader was disqualified as a member of parliament, widely seen as politically motivated. The authorities also took steps to dissolve the party, following the disbanding of Thai Raksa Chart Party in March.
The Constitutional Court is an organ prescribed in Chapter 11 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2560 (2017). The disqualification of the person in question was in accordance with the Constitutional Court Ruling No.14/2562 (2019) dated 20 November 2019, stating that Mr. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s membership of the House of Representatives was terminated because he was the owner or shareholder of a newspaper or mass media business as prohibited under Section 101 (6) in conjunction with Section 98 (3) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2560 (2017).
The Constitutional Court reached such decision in the exercise of its authority under Section 82, paragraphs one and four, of the Constitution and Section 7 (5) of the Organic Act on Procedures of the Constitutional Court B.E. 2561 (2018).
1.2 A claim that the authorities harassed people who criticized the monarchy or the military authorities and required them in many cases to retract their statements or self-censor. The government also pressured social media platforms to restrict access in Thailand to such content. Politicians and political activists reported physical surveillance and harassment by army personnel, including during the election period and the lead-up to the coronation.
The monarchy is protected under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2560 (2017) and the Penal Code. A person accused of committing an offence against the monarchy shall be adjudicated by the Court of Justice on the basis of the facts of each particular case and relevant legal provisions. The Court has to exercise its authority in a manner consistent with the Constitution, legislation, and the rule of law while the accused person’s rights in a trial are guaranteed by the Constitution and related laws.
2. Human Right Defenders
A claim that between May and July, the Court of Appeal upheld sentences of up to 10 years’ imprisonment against 14 women farmers whom the National Parks in Saithong National Park, Chaiyaphum Province had sued for trespass.
As regards the case of people sued for trespass in Saithong National Park, Chaiyaphum Province, the Court of Appeal ruled that 14 persons comprising both men and women had violated the National Reserved Forest Act, Forest Act and National Park Act. The lowest imprisonment term handed out by the Court is 4 months as per the judgment of the Court of Appeal Region 3, Red Case No.1048/2562 dated 5 April 2019, while the highest imprisonment term is 4 years as per the judgment of the Court of Appeal Region 3, Red Case No. 1297/2562 dated 8 May 2019. There is not any case where the accused was sentenced up to 10 years in prison.
3. Refugees and Asylum-seekers
A claim that Refugees and asylum-seekers remained at risk of arrest, detention and refoulement in the absence of a formal legal status under Thai law. A migrant status determination procedure announced in January 2017 was passed at the end of the year.
On 25 December 2019, the government issued the “Regulation of the Office of the Prime Minister on the Screening of Aliens who Enter into the Kingdom and are Unable to Return to the Country of Origin B.E. 2562,” which will come into force 180 days after the publication in the Royal Gazette (i.e. on 22 June 2020). The regulation provides for the establishment of the “Protected Person Screening Committee” which is mandated to determine criteria and conduct screening of aliens entering into the Kingdom but unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin due to a reasonable ground that they would suffer danger from persecution in order to grant them the “protected person” status in accordance with human rights principles. Such persons will not be repatriated and are allowed to stay temporarily in the Kingdom with access to appropriate healthcare and education (in case protected persons are children).
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand