Most of committee screening national rights commissioners are military

More than two-thirds of the committee responsible for screening the candidates to Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are high-ranking military officers.

A leaked classified document listing the members of the committee authorized to screen the behaviour and ethical backgrounds of the candidates to the NHRC shows that 12 of the 17 are four-star military offcers.

Four other members are civilians and the remaining member is a police general.

The source of the document requested Prachatai not to show the real copy of the document and to respect their anonymity due to privacy concerns.

According to the leaked document, Gen Oud Buangbon is chair of the NHRC screening committee while three other four-star military officers, namely Gen Sophon Silpipat, Air Chief Marshal Siwakiat Chayema, and Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan serve as first, second, and the third deputy chairs.

The chief advisor of the committee is Gen Lertrit Wechsawarn.  As a Senator and chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Studying and Monitoring Problems Concerning Law Enforcement and Measures for the Protection of the Royal Institution, Gen Lertrit last year was reported by the Bangkok Post to have agreed with a group of ultra-royalist senators to build up a strong network of pro-monarchists using social networking to protect the monarchy.

On Tuesday, 21 July 2015, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand announced a list of seven candidates to replace the incumbent commissioners who have been in office since June 2009.  The candidates to the NHRC are now waiting for the approval of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) in about 30 days.

One of the seven candidates, Baworn Yasinthorn is the leader of an ultra-royalist group calling itself Citizens Volunteer for Defence of Three Institutes Network.

In April 2010, the ultra-royalist group filed charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, against Wuttipong K., aka Ko Tee, a hardcore red shirt leader from Nonthaburi Province, for allegedly defaming the Thai King during an interview with Vice News.

Prior to the 2014 coup d’état, Baworn was also a prominent supporter of People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Sunai Phasuk, a researcher from Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Prachatai that the inadequate selection process for NHRC commissioners results in the appointment of unqualified people to the Commission.       

“The selection process of the NHRC in a way picks people who do not have solid backgrounds in human rights and who are not independent as commissioners. This results in a lot of limitations of the rights commissioners,” said Sunai.

Last year, the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the International Coordinating Committee on National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), an independent international association of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) which monitors the performance of national human rights institutions worldwide, downgraded Thailand’s NHRC from A to B, citing the agency’s poor performance and partiality.