Ministry fires back at critical Amnesty International report

national February 24, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

An Amnesty International report saying the junta had continued to restrict human rights for another year was discounted by the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday.

The 2016-2017 report, which was released on Wednesday, said the junta continued to punish and ban peaceful political dissent, prosecuted politicians and activists who were critical, and tortured and treated prisoners poorly.

The ministry said the report did not fully reflect positive developments in Thailand and added that the government was committed to the implementation of the “road map” towards achieving sustained democracy, social harmony and lasting stability. 

It said Thailand supported and valued freedom of expression and respected human rights in accordance with international practices, which was evident in the fact that the press can freely criticise the government. 

Concerning the lese majeste law, the ministry said it was part of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which gives protection to the rights and reputation of the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent and the Regent in a similar way libel law does for ordinary citizens to maintain national peace and stability. 

“It is not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of expression and is not driven by any political agenda,” the ministry said.

Human right defenders in Thailand were entitled to fair trials without discrimination, the ministry said. 

The government welcomed concerns raised by all relevant sectors including civil society, the ministry said, adding that it believed that constructive engagement on the basis of comprehensive and balanced information would lead to the effective promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

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