A week or so from now the representative of the United Nations to Burma on human rights will present his annual report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It should make interesting reading.
[Update, March 17: Advance copy of report available here]
The report follows Tomas Ojea Quintana’s second visit to the country since he came into the job last year, at the end of which the regime even allowed him a press conference inside the Rangoon airport, rather than back in Bangkok.
His careful remarks on the “challenging” rights situation were quoted in the state media, which also gave what by its standards was an unusually detailed account of his meetings and travels in February.
In the following days it also made out that the release of thousands of prisoners, timed to coincide with Quintana’s departure, had something to do with his visit rather than overcrowded jails.
Contrary to official news reports, the rights representative did not get everything he wanted. The government declined to let him meet with political party leaders. Because of this, U Win Tin, former long-term prisoner and National League for Democracy executive council member, refused to meet with Quintana individually.
And the rebel Karen National Union was irked that Quintana went to see leaders of splinter units that have gone over to the government side but didn’t call on it. As the envoy’s remit is to study and report on human rights abuse perhaps it should be relieved that he did not pay a call.
Ironically, the people whom Quintana could not or did not see got more press outside the country than those whom he did. Among the latter were the chief justice, attorney general, bar council members, home affairs minister and police chief.
These meetings are important because they speak to the new approach that Quintana has taken to the mandate, which distinguishes him from his predecessors. Continue reading
Posted in army, Burma, dictatorship, human rights, military, Myanmar, rule of law, UN, UPI
Tagged Human Rights Council, Karen National Union, KNU, National League for Democracy, NLD, Quintana, Special Rapporteur, Tomas Ojea Quintana, Win Tin
From Prachatai, more evidence of human rights in the sewer:
Police visit Prachatai office with search and arrest warrants for website moderator
Prachatai, 06 March 2009
On March 6, at 3 pm, seven police officers visited Prachatai office in Bangkok, showing a search warrant and an arrest warrant for Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Prachatai Director. She is charged with the offense according to Article 15 of the Computer Crime Act. She has refused to answer any questions, and is waiting for her lawyer. Continue reading
Not so long ago, Thailand’s representatives at United Nations meetings sat quietly while counterparts from nearby countries like Burma and Cambodia were grilled on their human rights records.
Around the world, Thailand’s legal, political and social developments in the 1990s were greeted with applause, and its people in Geneva could sit comfortably, confident that their country would be held up as an example of somewhere with an improved record, even as their neighbors were being singled out for the opposite reason.
How times have changed. This week, the Asian Legal Resource Center submitted a statement to the Human Rights Council (above) that has painted the bleakest picture yet of denied rights and declining rule of law in Thailand during the past few years. [การเติบโตขึ้นของรัฐแห่งความมั่นคงภายในและการเสื่อมถอยของสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศไทย]
According to the Hong Kong-based group, Thailand is now in real danger of turning back into an internal-security state. The center’s indicators include the repeated overthrow of elected governments by antidemocratic forces, large-scale public criminal activity with impunity, Internet censorship and the lese-majesty witch-hunt, threats to human rights defenders, and forced repatriation and murder on the high seas. Continue reading
Posted in censorship, constitution, courts, disappearance, extrajudicial killing, human rights, human rights groups, military, police, politics, rule of law, Thailand, UN, UPI
Tagged ALRC, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Human Rights Council, Internal Security Operations Command, ISOC, Samak, Shinawatra, Somchai, Sundaravej, Tak Bai, Thaksin, Thammasat, Wongsawat
[Die rechtliche Verfolgung der Taten der PAD]
According to news from Thailand this week [of December 18], police are set to lay charges against protestors responsible for blockading parliament after the leader of the main opposition party finally succeeded in becoming prime minister without having to win an election.
News reports said that police were compiling video footage and other evidence of demonstrators that threw rocks at vehicles, assaulted passerby, damaged public property and kept parliamentarians trapped within the legislature.
These are serious offences and if the police have the evidence they need, they should certainly try to prosecute. But the crimes of this group pale by comparison to the scale of criminality demonstrated by their opponents, those who occupied Government House for three months from August, and the two main airports for a week from the end of November.
In fact, the number of serious crimes committed under the banner of the group calling itself the People’s Alliance for Democracy is so large that it’s hard to imagine police officers even having time to investigate the melee outside parliament on Monday. Continue reading
Posted in crime, police, politics, protest, rule of law, Thailand, UPI
Tagged Bangkok, Don Muang, Government House, PAD, Penal Code, People's Alliance for Democracy
The verdict to dissolve three parties in Thailand’s coalition government and ban the prime minister and his party executives from politics for five years is the latest in a series of increasingly surreal judgments that have brought the country’s senior judiciary to the center of its political mayhem. It follows a ruling by the Constitutional Court’s predecessor last May to terminate the party of the ousted Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, from which the newly-disbanded People’s Power Party was born. It also follows another unanimous ruling from the court this September to throw out the then-Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, for cooking on TV.
Like the cooking show verdict, the judges this time ruled on a narrow legal question under section 237 of the 2007 Constitution. According to this clause, any member of parliament found to have committed or abetted an offense under the electoral act, or contrary to any order or announcement of the Election Commission, shall be deprived of voting rights. These offences could be minor, may change from time to time with new orders from the commission, and do not even constitute criminal acts. But anyhow, if it can be shown that the party leader or any executive member knew about the offense and failed to do anything about it, then it is mandatory that the party is dissolved and its executive banned.
Imaginary scenarios for how a similar law might apply to other professions don’t need to be stretched very far to realize the section’s absurdity. Continue reading
Posted in army, courts, crime, Jurist, military, police, politics, protest, rule of law, Thailand
Tagged 2007 Constitution, Constitution Court, Constitutional Court, Election Commission, PAD, People's Alliance for Democracy, People's Power Party, PPP, Samak, Samak Sundaravej, section 237, Shinawatra, Sundaravej, Thaksin, Thaksin Shinawatra
History repeated itself in Thailand this week when a top court for the second time in as many years dissolved the biggest political party, along with two of its partners, and effectively banned its leader and executive members from politics.
The Constitution Court, which inherited the job from an interim tribunal that issued a similar order against the former ruling party last May, unanimously disbanded the three coalition partners in accordance with section 237 of the 2007 Constitution.
Under this remarkable clause, which an unelected panel wrote into the charter on behalf of the 2006 coup makers, political parties must be dissolved if it can be shown that they failed to prevent electoral offences from occurring in their ranks.
In football, this would be the equivalent of a rule that if one player gets a red card, the whole team is disqualified from the league, with the captain and coach sent into early retirement.
The ruling allowed the political extremists, who had brought thousands of human shields to occupy the airports for a week, to declare victory and go home in time for the king’s birthday on Friday.
Irrespective of the formal grounds for the sentence, in timing and content it has been perceived as endorsing the extremists’ ideology and goals. In effect, the court has indicated that while vote buying cannot be tolerated, hijacking public facilities, vandalizing property, shooting at people and vehicles, illegally detaining fellow citizens, attacking state officers and setting up a proxy police force not only can be tolerated but can even be rewarded. Continue reading
Posted in constitution, courts, human rights, police, politics, protest, rule of law, Thailand, UPI
Tagged 2007 Constitution, Bush v. Gore, Constitution Court, PAD, PPP, Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court
Organizers of the prolonged raid on the Bangkok international airport have insisted that they will bring down the government at any cost. In targeting the airport they have taken a dramatic strategic step and have also made a move of enormous symbolic importance.
Suvarnabhumi Airport represents modern Thailand. The new airport was a huge project aimed not only at cementing the country’s commercial place in Asia but also at demonstrating how far it has come by comparison to most of its immediate neighbors.
Under normal circumstances, legions of security personnel would have protected the terminal, accompanied by the dire warnings of senior officers about anyone thinking to damage national prestige with funny business that might upset foreign tourists and businesspeople. Under normal circumstances, the police would have quickly moved to prevent or end any seizure, just as they did when protests occurred on government premises against the interim military regime last year.
But these are not normal circumstances. Crowds have already spent months occupying Government House, defying court orders to vacate, as well as one attempt to forcibly dislodge them. Now they are seemingly also at liberty to camp out in Thailand’s showpiece airport, with the expectancy that another military putsch will bump both them and the incumbent government out.
All these events speak to the complex interests that are at work behind and through the cynically named People’s Alliance for Democracy. Continue reading
Posted in army, courts, crime, military, police, politics, protest, rule of law, Thailand, UPI
Tagged Bangkok, Government House, PAD, People's Alliance for Democracy, Suvarnabhumi, Thai Rak Thai