Ahead of visit from the Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Amnesty International has called on UK Prime Minister Theresa May to convey her deep concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
Amnesty has repeatedly condemned the imposition of a restrictive human rights environment in Thailand since the 2014 coup, which brought to power the National Council for Peace and Order under General Prayut.
Amnesty said the meeting was an opportunity to raise significant human rights concerns about the country, in particular, those relating to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which has involved the detention and prosecution of hundreds of individuals.
Amnesty also called on May to condemn the first execution in Thailand since 2009, which was carried out on Monday.
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “Theresa May must not mince her words when she condemns the woeful state of human rights in Thailand. She must convey that this requires the Thai government’s urgent action, regardless of their plans for elections.
“Just this week Thailand used the death penalty for the first time in nearly a decade, a grim sign of the country’s human rights decline.
“In the four years since the coup, the Thai military have tightened their stranglehold on the country, misusing the criminal justice system to gag critics and scare people into submission.
“These sorts of high-level meetings shouldn’t just be about getting out the chequebooks and order forms. In the scramble to secure business deals, Britain must not trade away its ability to speak out about appalling human rights violations.”
The UK government has previously highlighted its pursuit of trade deals with Thailand.
Amnesty said May should go beyond merely saying she had raised human rights concerns and give details of the specifics of the discussion, including the response of Prayut so that he can be held to any commitments made.
May is currently distracted with domestic politics as her divisive Brexit bill makes its way through the House of Commons in a knife-edge vote.