FOREIGN MINISTER Don Pramudwinai yesterday said the US 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices will not effect Thailand even though the annual report criticised the ruling junta for curbing rights and freedoms in the Kingdom.
“The report does criticise the current limited freedom of assembly and a future election,” the minister said.
“However, it also praises our progress on gender equality promotion, combating trafficking in persons and lifting the prosecutions of civilians under military jurisdiction.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has yet to speak about the report, which was released on Saturday.
Don said that was because human rights was not the only agenda item on the table and the release of the report was routine.
Don was speaking shortly after the Foreign Ministry released a statement calling the US report on Thailand “unilateral” and based on unidentified or unverified sources.
The 62-page report, which covers a range of issues from freedom to participate in the political process to workers rights, criticises the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for issuing a series of absolute orders, many of which limit civil liberties. They include restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly and enforcement by the junta government to curb “acts deemed harmful to national peace and stability”.
The report also mentions harassment against criminal suspects, detainees and prisoners by government forces in reference to the long-standing insurgency in southernmost provinces, where the 2005 emergency decree and the 2008 Internal Security Bill remain in effect. Insurgents had also continued to commit human right abuses, notably by attacking civilians, it said.
Other issues raised in the report include arbitrary arrests and detention, poor prison facilities, insufficient protection for vulnerable populations, discrimination, sex tourism, sexual exploitation of children, trafficking in persons and child labour.
The report is a part of the series conducted by the US Department of State, as mandated by the US Foreign Assistance Act 1961, over the rights situation in 195 countries worldwide. The department stated on its website that the report was meant to demonstrate the US commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights.
In response, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said in astatement that the government was committed to a “road map” to achieving not only democracy but also “social harmony and lasting stability”.
The government also exercises special powers under the interim charter’s Article 44, which grants Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, as NCPO head, authority to address problems that “have been long overdue and could not otherwise be addressed with ordinary legislation”, the statement said.
The sweeping powers were exercised only when necessary and received “widespread support from various sectors across the country”, the ministry said.
Regarding conflicts in the South, the ministry said the overall situation had improved, with the numbers of violent incidents continually decreasing. The government is also pursuing dialogue with groups with different views and the results have been positive, it claimed.