Updated: AI on Thailand under the junta

25 02 2016

Amnesty International has released its annual human rights report. The chapter on Thailand makes for glum reading. While the junta dismisses the report, with a “spokesgeneral” saying “it was no different to previous reports which criticised the government,” the couple of pages on Thailand deserve attention.

The whole report can be downloaded as a PDF.Amnesty

Some clips from the report, detailing the authoritarianism of the military dictatorship follow:

Military authorities extended their powers to excessively restrict rights and silence dissent in the name of security. Political transition plans were delayed and repression deepened. The numbers of people harassed, prosecuted, imprisoned and arbitrarily detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights escalated sharply. Arrests and prosecutions under the lese-majesty law continued to increase. Internal armed conflict continued.

Reports of torture and other ill-treatment by police and armed forces continued throughout the year. Individuals held by the army in incommunicado detention without safeguards in unofficial places of detention were at greater risk of torture…. In several cases of deaths in custody as a result of torture, limited steps were taken towards accountability. However, impunity for perpetrators of these and other instances of torture prevailed.

Peaceful critics of the authorities were at risk of arbitrary detention and imprisonment. Many faced arrest, charges and prosecution throughout the year for a range of activities including staging plays, posting Facebook comments and displaying graffiti.

Hundreds of people who had been arbitrarily detained since the coup continued to be subject to restrictions on their rights imposed as conditions for release. Some were subjected to surveillance, intimidation and repeated short-term arrests.

In violation of the right to fair trial, civilians were brought before military courts and charged with offences against “internal security”, “the security of the monarchy” and infringements of NCPO orders. Detainees were denied the right to judicial appeal against judgments for acts committed during martial law.

Dozens of individuals were charged and prosecuted under Article 116 of the Penal Code relating to sedition for peaceful acts of dissent, including pro-democracy protests expressing peaceful opposition to military rule.

The authorities prioritized enforcement of Article 112 of the Penal Code – the lese-majesty law – and continued to treat criticism of the monarchy as a security offence. The judicial process for such offences was marked by secrecy, closed trials and denial of the right to bail. Military courts handed down more and longer sentences than in previous years, including up to 60 years’ imprisonment. Military courts also increased sentences handed down for lese-majesty offences by ordering prison terms for separate offences to be served consecutively.

Update: A report at Khaosod has the military junta, that heads a military dictatorship, lecturing AI on rights and freedom. We agree that AI doesn’t always get things right – after all past AI representative in Bangkok, Benjamin Zawacki, effectively defended the lese majeste law. However, its report on Thailand in the past year is factual. The dictatorship’s response is to complain that AI “fails to see the need to balance freedom and stability.”

The pathetic Ministry of Foreign Affairs states: “We regret that the report only presents issues of concern while leaving out several points on positive developments in Thailand…. The Report also ignores the daunting challenge facing Thailand which is the need to strike the right balance between freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and the need to prevent political conflicts from re-emerging.”

As it makes these claims, the regime’s thugs continue to threaten opponents and their families, including elderly women.