By Wasamon Audjarint,
Prime Minister General Prayut Chanocha said he had heard initial reports that the delegation faced some difficulties explaining human rights practices in Thailand, including in relation to the death penalty.
“Some may question why the death penalty still exists in our country. On the other hand, some Thais also question why some [wrongdoings] are not punishable by death. There is really a fine line in defining legal violations,” he said.
Prayut added that the UN review process proceeded in a “reasonable and academic” way.
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said he was not worried about the Kingdom’s rights image although the junta has maintained and practised extrajudicial power.
“It is well perceived that the government has elevated some measures, such as rulings in military court,” he said, referring to the junta elevating the military court’s jurisdiction to cover civilians found to violate lese majeste or “threaten national security”.
The jurisdiction change was enforced last year but not effective retroactively, leaving leftover civilian cases still to be heard in military court.
The coming enactment of the amended charter draft, the multiple uses of the all-powerful Article 44, and the functioning of military courts were included among concerns cited by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its communication with the Thai delegation on Monday.
The 46-member Thai delegation, headed by Permanent Secretary to Justice Ministry Charnchao Chaiyanukij, travelled to attend the Human Rights Committee’s 119th session to present a report on Thailand’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In the first half of the session held yesterday, Charnchao said, the Thai delegation was also asked about the use of emergency decrees in the deep southern provinces, updates on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and organic law drafts, about freedom of assembly, and regarding bill drafts on gender equality and violence against women.
The questions also covered the treatment of migrant workers and the disappearances of lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit and Karen land rights activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, he said.
In a continuing session, the committee was scheduled to pose additional questions about the death penalty, a bill draft on torture and enforced disappearances, prison quality, independence of the courts, the lese majeste law and the enforcement of the computer crime bill.
Charnchao did not elaborate on how Thai delegates had responded to the queries but said that the questioning was carried out “politely and creatively”.
The 46-member Thai delegation’s proceedings are also being observed by representatives from civil society and the NHRC. After the session ends, the committee will issue observations regarding Thailand and five reviewed countries with suggested guidelines.