HRW calls for human rights to be a priority

17 08 2011

Human Rights Watch has issued a long open letter to Yingluck Shinawatra. In a press release, they summarize their call for the new government to “make human rights a priority when it issues its inaugural policy statement to parliament…. Yingluck is expected to give her statement to parliament on August 24, 2011.”

HRW states that the new government “has broadly addressed the need to highlight reconciliation after the political violence of last year, but has not yet presented concrete plans on reversing the deteriorating human rights situation in the country…”. It adds that “talk of reconciliation after last year’s violence will remain just talk unless those responsible for the violence are brought to justice.”

The list of human rights issues that demand attention is long (and worrisome):

  • the loss of life and destruction of property during the political upheavals of 2010
  • the killings of more than 20 human rights defenders and community activists since 2001
  • thousands of victims of the armed conflict in the southern border provinces
  • nearly 3,000 suspected drug dealers in the 2003 “war on drugs” [PPT again points out that the number suggested here is likely incorrect]
  • unlawful government interference with the media has expanded, including the forced closure of radio stations and websites
  • lese majeste
  • current practices regarding the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers where police and other authorities continue to violate the basic rights of migrant workers with impunity

HRW “urged the Yingluck government to quickly take the following actions”:

  • Publicly order the military, police, and other government agencies to fully cooperate with official inquiries regarding human rights abuses
  • Provide the Truth for Reconciliation Commission with subpoena power and sufficient resources to act independently and effectively in its investigations of violence last year
  • Assess the status of those detained in connection with the protests by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the insurgency in the southern border provinces to ensure that they are properly treated in accordance with due process of law and human rights standards
  • End all restrictions on the media that violate the right to freedom of expression, and announce a concrete plan to revoke laws such as the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, the Computer Crimes Act, and the laws regarding lese majeste

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