[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Tuesday that a proposed provision [HRW report] in Thailand’s constitution would permit the nation’s military to commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment in violation of international treaties. A new constitutional provision before Thailand’s legislative body, known as the the junta or the National Council for Peace and Order, would exculpate the use of force by military personnel if the conduct is “carried out with honest intention” in the interest of national security [Al Jazeera report]. HRW referred to the constitutional amendment as a license to kill. HRW acknowledged that Thailand’s military forces have acted with impunity for decades. However, HRW argued that “International human rights treaties ratified by Thailand make clear that status as a government official does not permit immunity for serious rights violations. In addition, Thailand has international legal obligations to ensure the right to an effective remedy for victims of serious violations, including unlawful killings.”
Following the military coup in Thailand [JURIST news archive; HRW Thailand backgrounder] in May 2014, government sanctioned activity in Thailand has generated concern from human rights groups around the world. Earlier this week, the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia [official website] urged [JURIST report] Thailand to immediately close a military detention center in Bangkok where two high-profile inmates have died in the last month. Additionally, the UN office called for the end of military detention facilities that are being used to hold civilian prisoners. In October, Thailand’s military government appointed a committee to write a new constitution [JURIST report] after a previous draft was rejected the month before. In May of this year Thailand’s military government announced [JURIST report] it would hold a referendum on a new constitution, delaying the general elections scheduled for mid-2016.