Human Rights Watch annual report says Thai government not upholding basic rights

A new report by Human Rights Watch said that the Thai government was guilty of repressing basic rights and using judicial and extra-judicial means to intimidate the pro-democracy movements in 2021.

In the World Report 2022, HRW said that the Thai government had failed to ensure freedom of expression in the country.

The report particularly cites the arrest of pro-democracy activists, retaliatory lawsuits against activists, and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders.

“Thai authorities have prosecuted dissenters, violently dispersed peaceful protests, and censored news and social media,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Since the ruling government of Prayut Chan-ocha brought back lese-majeste prosecutions in November 2020, at least 154 activists have been charged under section 112 of Thailand’s criminal code.

Section 112, lese majeste law, cites whoever defames, insults, and threatens members of the monarchy, will be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.

Prominent young activists, including Arnon Nampha, Parit Chiwarak, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, are under pretrial detention on lese majeste charges, which could take years until their trial is concluded.

On September 16, the parliament approved the first reading of the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Bill.

The government has taken no further steps to pass a law making torture and enforced disappearance a criminal offense despite the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) criticisms of Thailand’s human rights record in November.

“Respect for human rights in Thailand has gone from bad to worse while the government’s promises of reform remain unfulfilled,” Adams said.

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