BANGKOK – Thailand’s Foreign Ministry Saturday issued a statement to respond to rights violation concerns by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying opinions on the draft charter can still be expressed in good faith.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raâ€™ad al-Hussein said in his statement that several critics of the draft charter have been arbitrarily arrested, detained and harassed since the draft was made public at the end of March.
He noted the detention of Pheu Thai politician Watana Muangsook and Tuesdayâ€™s arrest of five protesters for criticising the draft charter. They have since been released. Zeid expressed particular concern that the crackdown on criticism could intensify following hardline comments by General Prayut and other senior government figures.
The Foreign Ministry insisted that Thailand supports and highly values freedom of expression and believes it is a basis of a democratic society.
“However, this is not absolute in view of the need to uphold public order and prevent social divisiveness as the country is moving forward to achieve a more sustainable democracy and social harmony,” the Foreign Ministry said in its press statement said.
It said the order “is part of the government’s overall effort to crackdown on any influential figures involved in organized crimes which are a deep-rooted issue in Thai society. The Order is intended to ensure that citizens are exempted from fear of intimidation and extortion.
The Order enables an authorization of military officers to act as crime suppression officers and to render their assistance to the police in an effort to suppress organized crimes. Defendants in such cases will go through normal judicial process, with police as the main investigator. Their trial will be conducted in civilian courts, not military ones. Moreover, this order does not deprive the right of the defendants to file complaints against military officers who have abused their power.”
The Foreign Ministry said the charter drafting process was conducted in an inclusive and open manner. The Constitution Drafting Commission took into account proposals submitted by the people and various agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on issues of human rights. Some of these are in line with the views conveyed by OHCHR. – The Nation