June 15, 2014 00:00 By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
High Commissioner told most detainees have been released and situation better
The detention of politicians, academics and activists under martial law has already been eased, Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow has told the United Nations’ human rights body.
Sihasak discussed the matter with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navanethem Pillay in a meeting in Geneva to update her on the latest political developments in Thailand.
Pillay earlier wrote to junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha to express the UN’s concern over the detention of people and other human rights violations after the military coup.
UN experts on human rights issued a statement on Friday voicing concern over the detention of critics and people who opposed the takeover.
Particular concern was expressed over the “chilling” effect from the military summoning more than 440 individuals, including political leaders, academics, journalists and activists to Army bases, the statement said.
They said many remained in detention without access to family or a lawyer. Some were held incommunicado in unknown locations and may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.
Sihasak told Pillay that a number of people were summoned for reporting to the junta but most had been released.
He said nobody was held longer than seven days and the detention process was used to nullify warring factions and keep calm in the country.
The measures that restricted people’s freedom were eased accordingly, and the curfew lifted to allow normal life to return.
Freedom of expression in the media had already resumed as the junta had allowed television networks to continue operations.
“Foreign media in particular have the freedom to travel the entire nation to conduct their reports without any restriction,” he said.
Local media was also allowed to report and publish op-eds freely, he said.
Pillay listened to the update with an open mind and agreed to adjust the information on the human rights situation in accordance with the improved situation in Thailand, Sihasak said.
The UN human rights commissioner will send another letter to Prayuth expressing this, he said, adding that it reflected a better understanding on the real situation in Thailand.