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UN 'seriously concerned' about increasing restrictions on human rights defenders in Thailand

 
BANGKOK  (3  September  2014)  --- The United Nations Human Rights Office for South   East   Asia   (OHCHR)   is  seriously  concerned  about  increasing restrictions  on  human  rights  defenders  in  exercising  their rights to peaceful assembly and expression in Thailand.
 
On   Tuesday,   Thai  Lawyers  for  Human  Rights,  a  local  human  rights organization,  announced the cancellation of an event to release its report on  the  human  rights  situation  after  the  22 May coup in Thailand. The organizers  reportedly  received phone calls and a letter from the military requesting  them to cancel the event. The communications indicated that the event  would  be  considered  a  violation  Announcement  No. 7/2557 of the National  Council  for Peace and Order, prohibiting political gatherings of more than five people.
 
The  cancellation  of  this  event  adds  to  other  incidents indicating a deteriorating environment for human rights defenders in the country. In early  August,  Amnesty  International-Thailand  was  invited  to  a police station and requested to cancel their planned public events to campaign for the protection of civilians in Gaza. In August, Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet,  a prominent human rights defender and the director of the Cross-Cultural  Foundation,  was  summoned  by  the police for a defamation complaint  filed  by  the  army  in  response  to allegations she raised of torture in one case in the south of Thailand. 
 
OHCHR  has  raised concerns directly with the Government and reiterates its call  to  the  Government  to  comply  with  its international human rights obligations. Thailand has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which  guarantees  rights  to  freedom  of  expression, association  an assembly.  Further, as a member of the United Nations, it should respect the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which  provides  that  everyone  has the right to conduct human rights work individually and in association with others (article 1) and provides the right  to  discuss  and  bring  public attention to human rights situations (article 6).