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Thailand fails to address rights concerns at U.N. review, rights groups say
March 14, 2017 / 1:22 PM / 7 months ago

Thailand fails to address rights concerns at U.N. review, rights groups say

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand failed to address international concerns about the military government’s obligation to uphold civil and political rights at a U.N. review in Geneva, rights groups said on Tuesday.

Thailand’s military seized power in a May 2014 coup to end more than a decade of political unrest. It says harsh measures were necessary to ensure stability and order and were only aimed at those who stir up violence.

A committee of U.N. rights experts asked Thailand to address several rights issues to illustrate its commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in review sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

But the Thai delegation, which consisted of 46 state officials and was the largest delegation this year, failed to directly address some of the committee’s concerns, said Sunai Phasuk, Thailand researcher for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

“Thailand failed to show genuine commitment to civil and political rights obligation,” Sunai told Reuters. “It’s more about putting on an act rather than addressing concerns factually.”

Concerns were raised about Article 44, which gives junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha power to decree any order for national security, the royal defamation law and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, said Kingsley Abbott, senior international legal adviser for Southeast Asia with the International Commission of Jurists, who attended the review sessions.

“As there were many detailed questions, not all of them were answered at the session,” Abbott told Reuters.

In contrast, Prayuth said the Thai delegation performed well.

“The Thai delegation reported that they could answer all the questions,” he told reporters at the Royal Government House.

The junta has long come under fire from the international community for rights restrictions and crackdowns on dissidents, especially those perceived to be insulting the much revered monarchy - a crime which carries a jail term of up to 15 years.

A prominent student activist, who was charged in December with lese majeste for sharing a BBC Thai language profile of new King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Facebook, was refused bail for the seventh time on Monday.

On Sunday, a man was accused of violating the Computer Crime Act for his Facebook post parodying the junta’s theme song, “Returning Happiness to Thailand”.

The committee asked the Thai delegation to address all questions in writing within 48 hours of the session ending.

Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Editing by Nick Macfie

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