Freedom House downgrades Thailand to “not free”

US based Freedom House, a democracy advocacy group, has downgraded Thailand from being “partly free” to “not free” in its latest global rankings. The Freedom in the World 2021 report released this week assigned Thailand a total score of 30 out of 100, dropping from 32 out of 100 in the previous survey conducted in 2019.

Before, Thailand was deemed “not free” in the years of 2017 and 2018, but then was upgraded after elections were held after 5 years of military rule. But, the NGO has deemed the election process to be flawed.

The reasoning for the current downgrade is partly due to the court-ordered dissolution of the Future Forward Party in 2020 and the recent crackdown on pro-democracy groups, which have seen young students being charged with lese majeste, or defaming the monarchy, which is a crime in Thailand. As for the elections that were considered as flawed by Freedom House, the NGO issued a statement explaining their take on the supposedly democratic process.

“The results, announced 6 weeks after the polls, were tainted by irregularities, with ballots ‘lost’, and initial vote tallies changed. Additionally, the formula for distributing party seats was altered after the election in order to reduce seats won by opposition parties and redistribute them to military-aligned parties.”

The report also noted that “a combination of democratic deterioration and frustrations over the role of the monarchy” had provoked the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations in a decade.

“In response to these youth-led protests, the regime resorted to familiar authoritarian tactics, including arbitrary arrests, intimidation, lèse-majesté charges, and harassment of activists.”

“Freedom of the press is constrained, due process is not guaranteed, and there is impunity for crimes committed against activists.”

Freedom House rates countries based on 10 political rights issues and 15 civil liberties issues. It gave Thailand 5 out of 40 for political rights and 25 out of 60 for civil liberties in 2020.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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