Thai national action plan for human rights and businesses won’t be mandatory

Thailand is working on a National Action Plan to encourage the private sector to respect human rights  – but critics fear it won’t be effective if it’s not legally binding.

Businesses will have no legal obligation to implement the plan, which is akin to a set of voluntary good practice guidelines, warned Emilie Pradichit, the director of the Manushya Foundation, on Thursday.

“If it’s not mandatory, then nothing is going to change in Thailand,” said the director of the human rights NGO, at a meeting co-organized by the Thai Business and Human Rights Network.

Another limiting factor on the NAP’s potential impact is that the Justice Minister will adopt it on a ministerial level, meaning the guidelines will not apply to other ministries and departments.

 

Continue reading Khaosod English

Anti-Junta Activist ‘Ja New’ Attacked for Second Time

A group of unidentified men assaulted pro-democracy campaigner Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat on a street in northeast Bangkok today, his mother said.

Sirawith’s mother said the 27-year-old activist was ambushed by four men wielding wooden sticks as he was leaving his home in Bangkok’s Kannayao district. The assailants reportedly fled the scene after bystanders saw the attack and rushed to help Sirawith.

The activist was later to Nawamin Hospital. His friends said he suffered serious injuries to the head.

Previously on June 2, Sirawith was beaten close to a court in downtown Bangkok. Although the perpetrators were never caught, critics of the junta suspect the regime’s involvement because two other anti-government campaigners have been attacked in a similar pattern.

Continue reading Khaosod English: Activist ‘Ja New’ Attacked for Second Time

Thai constitutional court lets pro-army lawmakers keep seats during probe

A Thai court said Wednesday it would let 32 pro-military lawmakers keep their seats while it decides whether they violated election rules, in a decision criticized as unfair because the court earlier suspended an opposition leader over a similar allegation.

The Constitutional Court agreed to rule on a complaint that the 32 members of a coalition that elected 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister earlier this month had violated a prohibition on lawmakers holding shares in media companies. But it dismissed allegations against nine others, citing lack of evidence.

The court earlier suspended the leader of the anti-military Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, from Parliament until it rules in his case. It said it did not suspend the pro-military lawmakers because the complaints against them had not been filed and processed by an investigative committee.

Continue reading Houston Chronicle: Thai court lets pro-army lawmakers keep seats during probe

Thailand regime orders phone users in Muslim-majority south to submit photos

An order for mobile phone users in Thailand’s restive south to submit a photo of themselves for facial recognition purposes is causing uproar from opponents who see it as further curtailing the rights of the Muslim-majority population.

But an army spokesman on Wednesday defended the move, saying the facial identification scheme is needed to root out insurgents deploying mobile phone-detonated home-made bombs.

Thailand’s three southernmost states — Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat — have since 2004 been rife with conflict between Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which annexed the region around a century ago.

The tit-for-tat violence has claimed around 7,000 lives, mostly civilians of both faiths, and security forces have detained individuals suspected of being separatist rebels without warrants in the past.

Now telecoms companies are requiring all users of the region’s 1.5 million mobile numbers to submit a photo of themselves for facial recognition purposes following orders from the army — a move that is drawing anger from rights groups as the deadline to register photos nears.

A military spokesman defended the move on Wednesday, saying it was necessary to identify perpetrators who use mobile phone reception to set off home-made bombs.

“In cases where the attacker uses a SIM card to detonate a bomb, we can trace the perpetrator,” said Colonel Watcharakorn Onngon, deputy southern army spokesman.

Registration ends on October 31, and anyone who fails to submit their photo in the three southern provinces and four districts in neighbouring Songkhla province will have their mobile reception cut off, he said.

Junta leader-turned-premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday also said the scheme provides “evidence” about who the real owner of each SIM card is.

“People in the south are not complaining… they know it truly helps reduce violence,” he said.

The Muslim-majority south and rights groups have long accused the Thai state of heavy-handed sweeps of the Malay-Muslim populations, raising tensions in communities who feel targeted in their homes.

Using such “flawed” facial recognition technology usually leads to “racial profiling and, in turn, wrongful arrests”, according to a statement by rights group Cross Cultural Foundation Tuesday.

“The risks of racial discrimination may erode public trust in policing the region,” it said.

While the rest of Thailand is not subjected to the same requirement of submitting photos, Watcharakorn said people with unregistered SIMs travelling to the three provinces will have no cell access.

Source France24: Thailand orders phone users in Muslim-majority south to submit photos

Amnesty International calls for urgent action in 17 activists case in Thailand

On Monday (24 June), Amnesty International Thailand (AI) issued a call for appeals to be sent to the Thai government in the case of the 17 activists facing charges for their participation in a peaceful assembly outside Pathumwan Police Station on 24 June 2015.

On 6 April 2019, the Thai authorities charged Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, governing sedition, Article 215 for an assembly of ten or more people breaching the peace, and Article 189 for providing assistance to someone who has committed a serious crime – allegedly for giving activist Rangsiman Rome a lift from the police station after the 24 June 2015 protest.

The Thai authorities subsequently charged 16 other activists, including Suhaimee Dulasa, former President of the Federation of Patani Students and Youth (PerMas), and student activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, who has just been released from prison, under Articles 116 and 215.

“Filing charges against these individuals nearly four years after their peaceful demonstration appears to be a politically motivated decision to silence perceived opponents and has a chilling effect on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Thailand,” says AI’s statement.

Continue reading Prachatai English: Amnesty International calls for urgent action in 17 activists case

Thai court accepts petition against 32 MPs, no status suspension

The Constitutional Court has accepted a petition by the Future Forward Party against 32 MPs out of 41 for holding shares in media companies, but they are not suspended as MPs.

The Constitutional Court says 32 MPs accused of holding shares in media companies must respond within 15 days. 20 are from the Phalang Pracharat Party, 9 from the Democrat Party, and 1 each from the Action Coalition for Thailand, Chart Pattana, and Prachaphiwat parties. The other 9 MPs, 6 from Phalang Pracharat and 3 from the Democrats, have been dismissed from the case.

The petition was filed by the Future Forward Party as retaliation after Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the party’s leader, was accused of holding shares in V-Luck Media Co. – an act which, under Section 98 of the 2017 Constitution, prohibits him from running for election as an MP and could result in the termination of his MP status, according to Section 101. His MP status was also suspended by the Court as requested by the Election Commission.

Continue reading Prachatai English: Court accepts petition against 32 MPs, no status suspension

Thailand military authorities order phone users in Muslim-majority Thai South to submit photos for surveillance

An order for mobile phone users in Thailand’s restive south to submit a photo of themselves for facial recognition purposes is causing uproar from opponents who see it as further curtailing the rights of the Muslim-majority population.

But an army spokesman today defended the move, saying the facial identification scheme is needed to root out insurgents deploying mobile phone-detonated home-made bombs.

Thailand’s three southernmost states — Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat — have since 2004 been rife with conflict between Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which annexed the region around a century ago.

The tit-for-tat violence has claimed around 7,000 lives, mostly civilians of both faiths, and security forces have detained individuals suspected of being separatist rebels without warrants in the past.

Now telecoms companies are requiring all users of the region’s 1.5 million mobile numbers to submit a photo of themselves for facial recognition purposes following orders from the army — a move that is drawing anger from rights groups as the deadline to register photos nears.

A military spokesman defended the move today, saying it was necessary to identify perpetrators who use mobile phone reception to set off home-made bombs.

 

Continue reading The Malay Mail: Thailand orders phone users in Muslim-majority south to submit photos