The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Thailand has declared that the longstanding practice of using conscripts as servants by Royal Thai Army (RTA) officers constitutes a human rights violation. The NHRC has urged the Defence Ministry to put an end to this practice within 90 days.
During a press conference, NHRC commissioner Wasan Paileeklee shared that the commission has examined the employment of conscripts as servants for senior commissioned officers and their families. According to a Defence Ministry regulation dating back to 1912, commissioned RTA officers are allowed to appoint conscripted individuals to serve them and their families in domestic matters. Sections 49-57 of this regulation also permit commissioned officers to discipline conscripts as they deem appropriate.
However, in 2008, the Defence Ministry’s Public Administration Act eliminated the use of conscripts as servants. Instead, the act enables the army to assign conscripts to roles such as administration, sanitation, and matters concerning retired army officials. NHRC commissioner Wasan Paileeklee said…
“The utilisation of both servant and service conscripts represents a misuse of drafted individuals. Although some are willing to serve their superiors, it goes against the purpose of military conscription.”
He mentioned that the ministerial regulations create ambiguity, enabling senior officers to enlist conscripts for their personal matters. Furthermore, some officers have mentally and physically abused conscripts, violating both the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Bangkok Post reported.
The NHRC has highlighted these rights violations to the Defence Ministry and called for the removal of the clause in the 1912 ministerial regulations, which has led to the misuse of conscripts and the perpetuation of this practice. Wasan said…
“The NHRC anticipates the Defence Ministry to approve the new protocol within 90 days.”
In an incident in August last year, a former soldier filed a report with the Mueang Police in Ratchaburi, stating that she had experienced abuse at the hands of a female police corporal. The victim alleged that her employer had burned her with a hair curler, struck her with a metal bar, and even sprayed alcohol on her hair and set it alight.
By addressing this issue and urging the Defence Ministry to take action, the NHRC aims to prevent further human rights violations and ensure that conscripts are treated fairly and with respect, in accordance with their intended roles in the military.
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