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Human rights concerns over upcoming draft charter referendum

When the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) announced the “3 part road map” in June 2014, it indicated that restrictions on rights put in place following the 22 May 2014 coup would be temporary. In the immediate aftermath of the coup, and on several occasions since, Amnesty International has raised concerns that - even as temporary measures - many of these restrictions amount to human rights violations and as such are unacceptable.

Amnesty International is increasingly concerned that the Royal Thai Government continues, in law and in practice, to excessively, unnecessarily and unjustifiably restrict individuals’ human rights, in particular the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, human rights that Thailand is obliged to respect and protect under Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Prior to the referendum on 7 August 2016 and the implementation of any other plans for political transition, Amnesty International urges your government to take long overdue measures to ensure that individuals may freely and peacefully exercise their human rights without fear of harassment, arbitrary arrest, detention or prosecution.

In particular, I urge you to allow individuals to freely receive and impart information; to engage in public debate and campaigns concerning the draft Constitution; to peacefully gather and demonstrate; and to express dissenting viewpoints. Additionally, the media must also be allowed to freely publish information and disseminate diverse opinions – including criticism of the draft Constitution – without fear of retribution.

Amnesty International is also gravely concerned about reports of the arbitrary detention, arrest and prosecution of up to 113 persons involved in campaigns and activities relating to the referendum and the recent arrest of a journalist who was reporting on such campaigns. I urge your government to drop all charges against these individuals and expunge any convictions handed down on individuals for the peaceful exercise of their rights.

Amnesty International has repeatedly raised concerns about laws and decrees promulgated by your administration that violate human rights, including by excessively restricting certain rights beyond what international human rights law allows, and has urged that they be amended or repealed in order to ensure consistency with Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law.

Amnesty International urges the Royal Thai Government to address the long-standing concerns outlined in the attached briefer, and ensure that the upcoming constitutional referendum is held in an environment where all individuals enjoy the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.

 

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