[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [press release] Thailand to stop harassing and charging human right lawyers for defending victims of the government’s abuses. HRW Asia director Brad Adams accused the government of acting as a police state enforcing “bogus prosecutions” and cited recent cases in which human rights lawyers were charged with defamation, making false statements, using false evidence and refusing to withdraw complaints. According to Adams, the Thai government has repeatedly denied human rights accusations since its military coup in 2014, and the retaliation against human rights lawyers has been in violation of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers [text] and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders [official website]. HRW has called on Thailand’s allies, such as the US, to stop the government from further harassing lawyers and abide by human rights policies.
Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over Thailand’s governmental impunity since it became a military junta in May 2014. On Thursday the Pheu Thai Party filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) over the detention of one of its key figures, Watana Muangsook, accusing the government of serious human rights violations. In January UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the Thai government to fully investigate [JURIST report] the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared and criminalize forced disappearance through legislation. That same month, Thailand unveiled a new draft constitution [JURIST report], which human rights groups stated was aimed at increasing the power of the military under the guise of clauses intended to promote national security permitting them to commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment in violation of international treaties.