BANGKOK — Wide-ranging human rights restrictions continued in Thailand under the military regime in 2016, Amnesty International noted in its annual report released Wednesday morning.
In a year that moved the world closer to “a total collapse of the foundations of universal human rights,” the report faulted the military regime for increasing limits on expression, punishing its critics and the use of torture.
“The military authorities further restrict human rights. Peaceful political dissent, whether through speech or protests, and acts perceived as critical of the monarchy were punished or banned,” its summary on Thailand began.
The report noted that the junta, or the National Council for Peace and Order, maintains the power to detain individuals incommunicado without charge for up to seven days for “attitude adjustment,” more than two and a half years after the coup. It also called out the use of military courts to try civilians in existing cases involving national security and defaming the monarchy, despite an order rescinding their use.
The regime, which said it seized power in 2014 to bring stability and rein in corruption, has routinely complained that organizations such as Amnesty fail to understand the circumstances in Thailand.
In the bigger picture, it pointed out that junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha continues to exercise his “extraordinary powers” under Article 44 of the provisional constitution leading to arbitrary restrictions on human rights, which include peaceful political activities.
“In March , [Prayuth] issued an order expanding the law enforcement powers of military officers to detain individuals without court approval for a broad range of criminal activities,” it said.
Human Rights Defenders At Risk
A portion of the report details harassment or prosecution of those working to defend others, such as Sirikan Charoensri of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, who was charged with multiple offenses, including sedition.
“Economic, social and cultural rights activists were subject to prosecutions and lawsuits initiated by private corporations, often for alleged defamation or violations of the Computer Crimes Act,” the report said. “A gold mining company had initiated criminal and civil proceedings against at least 33 people who opposed its operations. Andy Hall, a migrants’ rights activist, was convicted in September for his contribution to a report on labor rights violations by a fruit company.”
The cases against rights lawyer Somchai Homla-or, Anchana Heemmina and Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, charged under the criminal defamation law and Computer Crime Act for releasing a report recounting allegations of state torture in the Deep South, were also noted.
The report also referenced authorities canceling events to discuss rights or political issues, the military’s use of torture in the Deep South, along with refugees and UN-recognized asylum-seekers locked up in immigration detention centers.