Thailand denounces Human Rights Watch

Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has condemned a report on the human rights situation for having a ‘political bias,’ while a Thai anti-corruption organisation has decided to opt out of Transparency International. 
 
On 24 January 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released a press statement condemning the 2018 World Report of Human Rights Watch (HRW) for carrying “obvious political bias.”
 
“We do not condone those who claim to work for human rights, and in the name of human rights with hidden agenda and we find such actions deplorable,” read the MFA statement.
 
The HRW 2018 report, with over 600 pages, covers the human rights situation in 90 countries across the globe. In the chapter on Thailand, HRW points out that the military still holds supreme political power under Section 44 of the Interim Charter, leading to a significant decline in the human rights situation in the country. Trials of civilians in military courts and media censorship also jeopardised Thailand’s human rights image significantly.
 
However, the MFA argued that the junta has made various efforts in 2017 to show its commitment to human rights values. Such efforts include the fact that the junta announced 2017 as a year of human rights, the 2017 charter which passed the referendum in a landslide and the suppression of human trafficking.
 
“These are only a few examples of the steps that Thailand has taken in the promotion and protection of human rights which are once again clearly missing from the HRW 2018 Report, not surprisingly given HRW’s obvious political bias,” MFA stated.
 
On 23 January, HRW also published a report entitled “Hidden Chains: Forced Labor and Rights Abuses in Thailand's Fishing Industry.” HRW argued that migrant workers in Thailand, especially in the fishing industry, experience labour abuses and low pay due to the government’s failure to suppress human trafficking.
 
The MFA then launched another statement condemning this report as well, saying that HRW used outdated information. “The narrative that repeats outdated information not only contributes to misunderstanding regarding the Government’s effort to address the problem, but also calls into question the validity and trustworthiness of the report itself.”
 
In a related development, Juree Vichit-Vadakan, Secretary General of the anti-corruption agency Thailand Transparency, told the media that the organisation has opted out of membership of Transparency International. She gave as the reason the fact that they used different indicators of what corruption is.
 
 
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