After One Year of Emergency Decree, No Justice in Southern Thailand Human Rights Defenders under Attack
New York – On the one-year anniversary of a flawed emergency decree, it is clear that the measure has weakened essential human rights protections, further fueling the violence in southern Thailand. That is the finding of a new report released today by Human Rights First, Losing Ground: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Thailand.
“Thailand’s reputation on human rights is at risk because it is not addressing serious abuses in its southern provinces, including arbitrary detention and disappearances,” said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First.
Human rights defenders play an essential role in helping victims obtain justice in the southern conflict area, and they have come under attack for their work there. Today’s report also reveals that human rights defenders are experiencing threats throughout the country.
“With more than twenty human rights defenders killed over the past five years, from monks to lawyers to environmentalists,” said Byrnes, “the Thai government has an obligation to protect its human rights activists and hold their killers accountable.”
The report includes the following recommendations on detention, disappearances, and defenders:
- The government should repeal the Emergency Decree, or as a first step modify articles authorizing detention without charge or access to a lawyer for thirty days, as well as the “license to kill” provisions granting immunity to security forces for rights violations.
- The government should implement a comprehensive strategy on “disappearances” by recognizing them as a crime, creating national police guidelines, and identifying hundreds of bodies in the southern provinces.
- The Ministry of Justice must ensure effective investigations and prosecutions in all murdered defender cases and provide increased support for witness protection.
The full report can be found here.
A fact sheet of the report’s findings can be found here.