Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission to be downgraded after failures to tackle domestic human rights violations

The highly criticized and controversial National Human Rights Commission (NHCR) of Thailand is facing a downgrade of its status by the network of interneational human rights organizations due to its failures in tackling human rights violations in Thailand.

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the International Coordinating Committee on National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), which is an independent international association of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from all parts of the globe who keeps track of national human rights institutions’ performance worldwide, revealed on Tuesday that the SCA has recommended that the ICC downgrade the status of the Thai NHRC from A to B.

Using the Paris Principles as a benchmark in accrediting human rights institutions in each country, the SCA has made the following conclusions on Thailand’s NHRC in its yearly report:

  • The selection mechanism of NHCR commissioners is not diverse, resulting in a lack of participation of civil society.
  • The NHCR has failed to respond to serious human rights violations, such as the political violence in 2010. It took the NHCR over three years to respond.
  • The professional independence of the NHCR is questionable since NHRC staff members publicly displayed their political affiliations while undertaking official functions and the NHRC discouraged this but did not ensure that it would not happen.

According to the SCA report, Thailand is given one year to comply with the ICC’s recommendations, before being downgraded from A status to B.

Since the political violence in April-May 2010 in which nearly 100 red-shirt protesters died during the violent military crackdown, the NHRC has never issued any statement against those responsible for the deaths. Similarly, after the coup d’état and the subsequent imposition of martial law in May 2014, the NHRC has also failed to make any public statement against the coup-makers.

The consequences of being downgraded are the following:

  • The Thai NHRC will be unable to express opinions or send documents to UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Conferences, including the inability to send reports on the human rights situation in Thailand for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the UNHRC. The next UPR of Thailand is in the 2016 round.
  • The Thai NHRC will be considered merely an observer at regional and international human rights conferences organized by the UNHRC.
  • The Thai NHRC will not be able to vote on any ICC decision or apply for ICC membership.

*Prachatai English apologizes for the mistake about the ICC and the UN.