GENEVA (23 May 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged Thailand to “ensure respect for human rights and a prompt restoration of the rule of law in the country.”
“My office has been closely monitoring the political turbulence in Thailand for the last five months and I am deeply concerned about the forcible replacement of an elected Government, the imposition of martial law, the suspension of the constitution and the emergency measures that are restricting the enjoyment of human rights,” the High Commissioner said.
Since yesterday, twenty one announcements and three Orders have been issued by the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) – the new body that has seized power from the caretaker government. The eleventh announcement suspended constitutional rights and freedoms. Six announcements severely restricts freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, including censorship of all media outlets, closure of TV and radio stations, prohibition of information critical of the NPOMC, restrictions on internet and prohibition of political gatherings of more than five people.
“I am very concerned by the restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by the NPOMC” Pillay said, adding that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are particularly important in resolving difficult political issues through dialogue and debate.
Yesterday afternoon before the first announcement was made by the NPOMC, senior leaders of political factions were invited to the Army club, subsequently detained, before being transferred to the First Infantry Regiment, King's Guards. Overnight, under three successive Orders issued by the NPOMC, 155 individuals were summoned to the army bases, including former cabinet members of the Government, Redshirts leaders, family members of Pheu Thai parliamentarians and some PDRC leaders. They continue to be under detention in different army bases.
“The military detention of senior politicians and civilians is very disturbing and I urge the NPOMC to immediately release them,” noted Pillay. “I remind the authorities that the implementation of any emergency measures must comply with international human rights standards. The right to life and the prohibition against torture cannot be breached, regardless of the circumstances.”
“I urge the NPOMC to ensure that they do not stray from Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which strictly limit the application of emergency powers,” Pillay said. “Measures derogating from the provisions of the Covenant must be of an exceptional and temporary nature and must be limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation,” she added.