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Watchdog slams Prayut policy statement for lack of rights ambition

Jul 24. 2019
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha prepares for a photo session with his new Cabinet members.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha prepares for a photo session with his new Cabinet members.
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By The Nation

New York-based Human Rights Watch has slammed the policy statement prepared by the new Prayut Chan-o-cha led government for presentation to Parliament on July 25, accusing it of failing to provide a pathway for restoring respect for human rights after five years of military rule.

“Prime Minister Prayut’s second term is starting with the same blanket disregard for human rights that characterised his first term,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director. 


“His policy statement contains no language whatsoever addressing the serious problems under repressive military rule since the 2014 coup. [Any] hopes that the new government would bring about human rights reforms and advance democratic civilian rule have suffered a serious setback with the failure to include any commitments in the policy statement,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.


General Prayut staged a military coup in 2014 to topple an elected civilian government and run the country under military rules. The government has been criticised within Thailand and internationally for suppressing basic rights of the people.


The general has been accused of manipulating the March election to continue his rule with the coalition support of 19 elected political parties. The government is required by the junta-sponsored charter to announce its policy to the parliament without a vote before fully governing. 


Prayut’s 40-page policy statement, which was submitted to the parliamentary speaker on July 19, does not discuss human rights issues in the country, Human Right Watch noted.

There is no mention of Prayut’s own national human rights agenda which he released in February 2018 with much fanfare, it noted.


The international rights organisation has been a consistent critic of the military government’s rights record over the past five years. It charges Prayut’s administration with providing immunity to human rights violations, restricting freedom of expression, failure to protect right defenders, as well as enabling forced disappearances and failing to comply with international obligations. 


“Thailand’s foreign friends should not let the recent elections become an excuse for ignoring the deteriorating human rights situation in the country,” Adams said. “There should be no rush to return to business as usual without securing serious commitments and corresponding action from the new government to respect human rights.”

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