Thailand was categorized as “not free” in a report by US-based Freedom House published late Wednesday, down from “partly free” last year. The country dropped two points and into the lower category due to the dissolution of opposition parties and the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.
The government-funded non-profit organization researches and promotes civil liberty and democracy around the world.
Citing the dissolution of the Future Forward Party and “military-dominated government’s crackdown on youth-led protests calling for democratic reforms,” the body said in its annual report that Thailand had devolved from partly free to not free.
A major reason for Thailand’s poor showing was the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations that aimed to topple the military-backed government of Prayut Chan-ocha, rewrite the constitution, and reform conservative institutions within Thai society.
“In response to these youth-led protests, the regime resorted to familiar authoritarian tactics, including arbitrary arrests, intimidation, lèse-majesté charges, and harassment of activists,” the report said.
“Freedom of the press is constrained, due process is not guaranteed, and there is impunity for crimes committed against activists.”
Tellingly, Thailand scored 0 out of 4 in the report’s measures for fair elections, and for whether the opposition was able fairly to gain support.
In ASEAN, Thailand was one of the lowest-scoring countries on the freedom index alongside Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The highest-scoring countries in the region were Malaysia and Indonesia.