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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.