Two human rights commissioners resign; say new regulations made them feel restricted

Commissioners Angkhana Neelapaijit and Tuenjai Deetes have resigned from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC), effective as of 31 July 2019.

Angkhana Neelapaijit (left) and Tuenjai Deetes (right)

Angkhana said at a press conference today (31 July) that the NHRC’s management system prevented commissioners from receiving complaints directly from the public, and that due to new regulations, the commissioners must first consider every complaint and decide whether the NHRC will take it. Angkhana said that this is affecting their work and means that they can no longer help as many people as they used to.

Tuenjai also cited the same reasons as Angkhana for her resignation. She also said that the new organic law on the NHRC said that the NHRC can set up subcommittees only in cases where it cannot be avoided, whereas in the past, the NHRC had many subcommittees, connecting the NHRC to all parts of the civil society sector. Since the new organic law came into effect, the current commissioners decided that they should not set up subcommittees as it may violate the law, thereby distancing the NHRC from civil society organizations. She also said that new regulations that have recently been issued made her feel restricted in her work as commissioner, and made her feel like the NHRC is no longer an independent organization.

NHRC Chairperson What Tingsamitr said that he accepted the decision of Angkhana and Tuenjai and that working under the 2017 Constitution has been difficult. He also said that their resignation means that the NHRC now has less than half of the number of commissioners it requires. The President of the Supreme Court and the President of the Supreme Administrative Court will now have to appoint temporary commissioners to replace the two commissioners who resigned.