Amnesty highlights importance of upcoming general election for Thai politicians to protect and promote human rights
Amnesty highlights the upcoming general elections in Thailand, set for 14 May, as a crucial opportunity for political parties and candidates to publicly commit to protecting and promoting human rights, including the rights of disadvantaged groups, civil society, and young people. Chanathip Thitiyakarunwong, a regional researcher for Amnesty International in Thailand, emphasized that the new Thai government must guarantee that its citizens are able to exercise their freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association without fear of punishment for expressing their views. Additionally, the government ought to end prosecutions related to peaceful protests and revise laws and policies that impede citizens from fully exercising their rights.
“After the last elections in 2019, Thailand faced the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, along with the rise of youth-led nationwide protests calling for political reform. The enforcement of pandemic-related measures has worsened the already severe economic disparities, increased social inequality, and led to unwarranted restrictions on the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” he said.
About 7.6% of Thailand’s eligible voters, numbering 52 million people, will be casting their ballots for the first time in their lives. Many of these young voters have participated in protests over the past three years and have been significantly affected by the state’s repression of the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. If elected into office, political parties and candidates should listen to and address the public’s demands for change, including those of the youth, and demonstrate their commitment to ensuring Thailand adheres to international human rights conventions, Chanathip added.
Amnesty International Thailand, in collaboration with various civil society sectors across the country, has developed policy recommendations on various issues ranging from civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, environmental rights, and the rights of diverse gender groups, migrant workers, refugees, people with disabilities, children, women, and indigenous peoples. These recommendations are designed to be adopted by candidates to develop policies that will improve human rights. Public forums have also been organized in several provinces to present suggestions to political parties and allow politicians to share their vision and policies concerning human rights.
According to data from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Center, between July 2020 and April 2023, at least 1,902 people faced legal action for criticizing the state or being involved in a peaceful public assembly. At least 1,469 people faced charges for violating public assembly restrictions, and another 167 faced Computer Crime Act charges. Furthermore, 242 individuals faced severe national security-related charges, while 130 faced sedition charges under sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Penal Code. Notably, 284 minors under the age of 18 were subject to criminal prosecution reports Sanook.
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