Brad Adams, Asia Director for Human Rights Watch is interviewed by Australia’s ABC Radio (26 March 2009: “No improvement in rights under new Thai govt”). The blurb for the 5:30 minute programme says: “The end of the military-installed administration in Thailand was supposed to lead to the restoration of rights and democracy. But Human Rights Watch says that’s not the case. In a speech in Bangkok last night Brad Adams, Asia Director for the rights organisation, said political polarisation is widening, and the new government is heavily dependent on the support of the military and conservative political forces. A relationship that is preventing new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from fulfilling his promises for reform.” But see below.
PPT congratulates Human Rights Watch for taking up rights issues in a public way and demanding an end to the political use of the lesé majesté law contrasts remarkably favourably with Amnesty International’s continued silence on such issues. AI’s on-going silence has been discussed elsewhere.
At the same time, Adams begins his interview by stating that Abhisit Vejjajiva is serious about human rights and well-intentioned. He also makes this point again later in the interview. PPT has noted several times that Abhisit’s words and his party’s and government’s actions are at variance. Most notably, Abhisit has claimed that Chotisak Onsoong’s case has been dropped and there has been no response to the well-documented response from Chotisak that this is untrue. Abhisit’s sincerity on these issues requires a more critical consideration.
Update: VOA News (26 March 2009: “Group Presses for Action to Improve Human Rights in Thailand”; there is also an audio report at this page) seems to have a slightly different take on the HRW story: “Human Rights Watch says Thailand is showing signs of progress in its human rights performance, but the government needs to begin prosecuting rights abusers, including those in state security forces.” Adams is reported as meeting with Prime Minister Abhisit, and welcomed the government’s stated willingness to debate human rights issues. It is also reported that Adams said, “I think the environment is better – there is the possibility of some kinds of reforms and there is the possibility of some small steps towards addressing the problem of impunity – but there has not been a sea change.”
The report continues: “Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams told VOA the moves would be a clear sign of progress in the country’s rights performance.” It is later added, “But Adams says there are still few signs of progress in policy since Mr. Abhisit’s government came to power in December.”