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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid