The EU has adopted the 2018 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the world on 13 May 2019.
Below is the overview of the human rights and democracy situation in Thailand:
1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: In 2018, freedom of expression and assembly remained restricted in Thailand. Criminal charges such as sedition, computer crime and public assembly, as well as defamation lawsuits, continued to be brought against human rights defenders and political activists.
Public gatherings of more than five people remained prohibited in 2018. On 11 December 2018, the Thai military leadership, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), lifted restrictions on political activities, including the ban on political gatherings of five or more people as well as a rule preventing political parties from convening meetings without prior approval, and engaging in political activities such as campaigning.
Under NCPO Orders 3/2015 and 13/2016, military authorities can detain people for a wide range of offences, and hold them for up to seven days without charge or any safeguards against mistreatment. In December 2018, the draft bill on prevention of torture and enforced disappearance was approved at its first hearing by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).
Thailand was on its way to establish an official moratorium on the death penalty in 2019. However, in June 2018, Thailand carried out its first capital execution (by lethal injection) since 2009. Thailand would have achieved the status of de facto abolitionist country, had it not carried out any executions before 24 August 2019.
Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol. The Thai authorities continued to treat asylum seekers, including those recognised as refugees by the United Nations, as illegal migrants subject to arrest and deportation.
In February 2018, Sam Sokha, a UNHCR-recognised refugee, was forcibly returned to Cambodia by Thai authorities, after a Thai court found her guilty of overstaying her visa. In November 2018, the Thai authorities detained Hakeem Ali Mohamed Al-Araibi, a recognised refugee from Bahrain with permanent residency in Australia, when he arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport from Australia.
In February 2018, the Thai Government announced its National Agenda "Human Rights as a Driving Force of Thailand 4.0 towards Sustainable Development". The Thailand 4.0 policy places emphasis on technology and innovation-based economic development while promoting people's participation and environmental-friendliness in parallel to creating sustainability, with human rights complementing these efforts. In March-April 2018, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights visited Thailand to examine efforts to prevent, mitigate and remedy adverse human rights impacts of business operations.
The Thai Government remains committed to suppressing forced labour, child labour, and the trafficking of migrant workers in the fishing and seafood processing sectors. In June 2018, Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (Protocol 29). The Government also publicly pledged to ratify the ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C188) by January 2019.
2. EU action - key focus areas: The EU continues to encourage the restoration of the democratic process in Thailand through credible, inclusive and transparent elections and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: The EU-Thailand Labour Dialogue was launched in May 2018, shifting the focus from labour rights in the context of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing to a broader scope of labour matters.
In the course of 2018, representatives from the EU Delegation to Thailand and EU Member States observed several trials and police hearings of human rights defenders, migrant workers and labour rights activists.
The EU Delegation to Thailand organised a number of meetings between civil society representatives, human rights defenders and Members of the European Parliament as well as representatives of EU Member States.
4. EU financial engagement: Technical assistance has been provided to a multitude of projects such as: a) support to an IOM project promoting stability, well-being and harmony for Myanmar Muslim and host communities in Thailand; b) a project designed to support Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders, including women, and their organisations in effectively advancing the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly their lands, territories and resources; c) a project aiming to contribute to the improvement of human rights for Cambodian workers in Thailand by reducing abuse, working exploitation and trafficking cases; d) a programme implemented by ILO and designed to contribute in combatting unacceptable forms of work in the Thai fishing and seafood Industry. The overall objective is to prevent and reduce forced labour, child labour and other unacceptable forms of work, while progressively eliminate the exploitation of workers, particularly migrant workers, in the Thai fishing and seafood processing sectors; e) a project targeting women in North and North-East of Thailand and supporting them in getting access to improved services and financing from the provincial governments; the programme is also designed to contribute in eliminating violence against women and promoting women empowerment; f) a programme on birth registration of migrant children; g) a project designed to contribute to the fight against violence against women in the Deep South.
5. Multilateral context: In March-April 2018, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights visited Thailand to examine efforts to prevent, mitigate and remedy adverse human rights impacts of business operations.
In June 2018, Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (Protocol 29). The Government also publicly pledged to ratify the ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C188) by January 2019.