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New strategy 'needed for foreign critics'

Govt duty-bound to explain rights issue to other countries: Sihasak

The Foreign Ministry has proposed a proactive strategy to deal with international criticism on Thailand's human-rights record after the United Nations launched its latest salvo in the case of red-shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen.

"We should not explain issues on a case-by-case basis any more, but should have a strategy to deal with this matter systematically," Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said.

"In some cases, the international community might have false information, but in many cases we are really obligated to work on and carry out human-rights issues," he told reporters.

The Foreign Ministry is duty-bound to provide explanations to the international community, but sometimes lacks information, he said. Hence, he suggested, concerned agencies should sit together and intensively discuss matters related to human rights.

"The issue of human rights is important, and we have to comply with the obligations and the commitment Thailand has given to the international community," Sihasak said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised concerns about how politicians, academics, activists and journalists have been arrested and detained by the junta since it took over on May 22.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the UNHCHR expressed concerns specifically in relation to Kritsuda, who supports the elected government ousted by the military.

In testimony shared with the media and human-rights organisations on August 2, Kritsuda described her treatment and the conditions of her detention, which lasted from May 28 to June 24.

She claims she was blindfolded for seven days, was beaten several times, and once even lost consciousness when a plastic bag was placed over her head.

The UNHCHR and Human Rights Watch have both called on the junta to look into this case. In addition, the UN rights body asked for details of Kritsuda's whereabouts last month when Thai media reported her missing.

In response, the junta broadcast a video clip showing the activist in military detention, looking well and being treated well.

The junta has also rejected Kritsuda's allegations that she was tortured, saying she had cooperated with the authorities and had provided very useful information on the anti-coup movements.

Sihasak, meanwhile, said the UN had previously asked about Kritsuda's whereabouts, but at that time she had gone into hiding herself for safety.


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