State department focuses on 'persistent' alleged violations in the deep south.
THE NATIONAL Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has brushed aside allegations of human rights abuses in the 2015 US State Department’s report on Thailand, suggesting that its measures were restrained and aimed at protecting the majority of people’s rights.
Colonel Winthai Suvaree, the NCPO spokesman, said the annual US report on human rights in Thailand reflected a sentiment that was not different from the US position in previous years, but Thai officials in the field had not yet received significant negative feedback from the public.
He also explained that the military-led government needed extra legal powers to restore peace and order because of the political crisis prior to the May 2014 coup. In addition, he said authorities had exercised their powers in a restrained manner and the majority of people were not concerned.
Regarding the NCPO’s request for former politicians to attend “special briefing” sessions, he said, these measures were aimed at creating a better understanding and seeking cooperation, so it should not be viewed as violating human rights.
Winthai said the NCPO wanted to ensure that the majority of people’s rights were not violated and if foreign countries such as the US did not understand the Thai situation, the government would be ready to make further clarification.
The NCPO’s remarks followed the US State Department’s release of its 2015 country report on Thailand’s human rights practices, which suggested that the country’s military-led government and its interim constitution over the past year had limited civil liberties, including restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly and the press.
The US report said: “The most persistent human rights problems were abuses by government security forces and local defence volunteers in the continuing Malay-Muslim insurgency in the southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani and one district of Songkhla.”
“The occasional excessive use of force by security forces, police and military, include harassing or abusing criminal suspects, detainees and prisoners.”
The annual US report also covers human rights practices in every country that is a United Nations member.
‘Arbitrary arrests and detentions’
On Thailand, the 2015 report said: “Other human rights problems included arbitrary arrests and detention; poor, overcrowded, and unsanitary prison and detention facilities; restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association. “Corruption; insufficient protection for vulnerable populations, including refugees; violence and discrimination against women; sex tourism; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons. “Discrimination against persons with disabilities, minorities, hill tribe members and foreign migrant workers; child labour; and some limitations on worker rights.
“Authorities occasionally dismissed, arrested, prosecuted and convicted security force members who committed abuses. Official impunity, however, continued to be a serious problem, especially in provinces where the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in the State of Emergency and the 2008 Internal Security Act remained in effect.
“Insurgents in the southernmost provinces committed human rights abuses, including attacks on civilian targets.”
Regarding arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life, the US report said: “Security forces at times used excessive and lethal force against criminal suspects and committed or were involved in extrajudicial, arbitrary and unlawful killings.”
“According to the Ministry of Interior’s Investigation and Legal Affairs Bureau, from October 2014 to September security forces – including police, military, and other agencies – killed 17 suspects during the arrest process, a significant decrease from the previous year.
“Several high-profile cases from 2014 remain unresolved. For example, in January 2014 unknown assailants shot and killed Suthin Thararin, a protest leader.”
In addition, there were no reports about politically motivated disappearances.