The State of Human Rights in 2011 - Consolidating internal security state, complaisant judiciary
(Hong Kong, December 9, 2011) A "deep-seated, ingrained culture of impunity that spans the state security forces, judiciary and civil service" is continuing to block the emergence of a human rights-respecting culture in Thailand, the Asian Human Rights Commission said today in its annual State of Human Rights in Asia report.
The 16-page Thailand report, entitled "Consolidated internal security state, complaisant judiciary" synthesizes and analyses a number of key human rights issues from throughout the year, including the criminalizing of victims of torture, persecution of human rights defenders, and constrictions of free speech.
"The Asian Human Rights Commission has for some time been warning the international human rights community that Thailand has been steadily regressing towards a new type of anti-human rights and anti-rule-of-law system in which the values associated with these concepts are advertised widely at home and abroad but in which state institutions are not only emptied of those values, but in fact are inverted to serve precisely the opposite ends from what they purport to serve," the AHRC said.
"The elections of 2011 do not appear to have brought an end to the progress of this project, although they have perhaps slowed it," it added.
Wong Kai Shing, director of the Hong Kong-based regional rights group, said that the persecution through the courts of people who actually deserved the protection of the law was one of the particularly alarming features of the human rights situation in Thailand during the year.
"That human rights defenders like Chiranuch Premchaiporn and Jintana Kaewkhao are treated before the courts of Thailand as criminal offenders is a damning indictment on the country's judiciary," Wong said, referring to two of the cases highlighted in the report.
"The conviction of torture victims for making complaints against the perpetrators of torture and their accomplices is particularly outrageous," he added, referring to the case of a client of forcibly disappeared rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit.
The report also points to the endorsement by the Constitutional Court of closed trial on internal security justifications.
"With cases like these passing through the courts, it is hard to look on Thailand's judicial system as anything but a system for the denial of human rights rather than for their defence," Wong stressed.
The AHRC in its report also drew attention to the increasing number of cases of lese-majesty in Thailand and their negative consequences for freedom of speech and human rights generally.
"The defendants in these cases are treated especially egregiously, and are deserving of special attention and support from human rights groups at home and abroad," Wong said.
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984