News / Asia

Rights Activists Call for Greater Accountability in Thailand

Soldiers walk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.Soldiers walk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
x
Soldiers walk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
Soldiers walk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
Ron Corben
Rights activists and the International Commission of Jurists say Thailand needs to be held to greater account for its human rights record, especially in cases of forced disappearances and extrajudicial abuses.

The appeal was made as the country bids for key posts on the U.N. Human Rights Council and as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

Human rights abuse charges include security forces' actions in the ongoing violence in Southern Thailand, which has claimed more than 5,000 lives since 2004.   Additional charges allege forced disappearances, killing, torturing, and abuse of criminal suspects.  

A report from U.S.-based Human Rights Watch notes the failure by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra 's government to be held accountable for past abuses as a leading trigger for the anti-government protests in Bangkok that have claimed more than 20 lives.

The protests followed a government backed amnesty bill covering acts of violence, abuse and corruption.  The bill was seen as favoring Yingluck's older brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives overseas to avoid a jail term for corruption.

HRW senior researcher Sunai Phasuk says Thailand must address its human rights record before getting backing for key U.N. posts.

"This Thailand that is now applying for a seat at the human rights council, I do not think the country deserves that status at all if it continues to believe in lawlessness, if it continues to believe in impunity, instead of justice, accountability and respect for human rights," said Sunai Phasuk.

The Thai Government has consistently defended its adherence to human rights standards at international forums and the United Nations.

The concerns come as the family of Muslim human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit marks 10 years since he was abducted in Bangkok in March 2004 and feared murdered.

Senior police officers were initially detained over Somchai's abduction.  But judges dismissed most charges against suspects for insufficient evidence.  One suspect on bail has since disappeared.    

Somchai's wife, Angkhana Neelapaichit, told reporters how she has continued the fight to find those responsible for her husband's disappearance.

"Even though the justice process may not bring his life back, but it should not be allowed to avoid the responsibility to give justice back to Somchai.  In the past 10 years I have tried very hard to achieve justice.  The Yingluck government has given me compensation, but the money cannot restore the dignity of the victim," she said.

Pratubjit Neelapaichit, w daughter of Somchai, who works as a lawyer and advocate, says she remains hopeful the case will be solved as her father always had faith in "truth and justice".

"As a human rights activist we have to be optimistic right?  We always believe and always have hope, we believe in the power of people have been very strong day by day.  We believe that one day we might find justice and truth about this case," she said.

International Commission of Jurists Asia and Pacific region regional director Sam Zarifi says Somchai's case is a highlight for international concerns over enforced disappearances.

"Somchai's case has come to be a symbol for the problem of enforced disappearances, not just in Thailand or South East Asia but really around the world.  This is at this point one of the emblematic cases of enforced disappearance in the world," he said.

Thailand has agreed to recognize the U.N. convention on forced disappearances, but has yet to sign the treaty.  ICJ's Sam Zarifi says once the treaty is signed, Thailand will face greater accountability for its human rights performance.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs