Thailand’s human rights agency will submit a letter to the Thai junta leader, urging it to reconsider the plan to merge the agency with the Ombudsman Office, while civil groups condemned the plan.
Amara Pongsapich, the chairwoman of Thailand’s National Human Right Commission (NHRC), told the press on Wednesday that the NHCR will submit a letter to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the head of the junta and prime minister, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), and the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) to reconsider the plan the combine the NHRC with the Office of the Ombudsman of Thailand (OOT).
Amara told the press that the functions of the NHRC and the Ombudsman office are different and people will lose alternatives in channeling complaints if the two organizations are to be combined because the work of the NHRC focuses solely on human rights.
Moreover, the NHRC chairwoman pointed out the proposal to divide the work of the combined NHRC-Ombudsman into 11 areas are against the Paris Principle, the international convention which Thailand ratified, on the function of NHRC, which should be independent from the executive branch of governance.
On the same day, Assembly of the Poor, the network of the poor and the marginalized in Thailand, issued a statement condemning the plan pointing out that although the NHRC has been inefficient and problematic, it is still necessary to have such the organization.
“Although it appears to the society that the work of the current NHRC is far from being efficient and from having thorough understanding of human rights, but the spirit of the NHRC is essential to the protection of human rights, especially that of the poor,” stated the Assembly of the Poor.
Besides, the Human Rights Watch also urged the junta’s NLA to abandon the plan.
“Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission and Ombudsman serve very different purposes and shouldn’t be merged,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Since the May 2014 military coup, Thailand has been a human rights disaster that needs an independent National Human Rights Commission to hold the junta accountable – now more than ever.”
The plan to combine the NHRC and OOT was approved by the junta’s CDC at the end of January. According to Bawornsak Uwanno, head of the CDC, the two state agencies have similar functions. Therefore, in order to increase the efficiency of the two to provide human rights protections and a one stop service for people to file complaints, the two should be merged under the Office of the Ombudsman and Human Rights Protection bill.
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