National Human Rights Commission (Thailand)
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (Abrv: NHRCT; Thai: คณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ, RTGS: Khana Kammakan Sitthi Manutsayachon Haeng Chat) was established on 13 July 2001 as a national human rights institution. The seven member commission has been unable to meet for want of a quorum since 30 July 2019, when two commissioners resigned, stating that they could "no longer perform their duties independently and effectively due to restrictive regulations and a hostile and toxic environment."
Khana Kammakan Sitthi Manutsayachon Haeng Chat
|Constitutional organization overview|
|Formed||13 July 2001|
|Annual budget||211.3 million baht (FY2019)|
|Constitutional organization executives|
The commission came into being after a clash, known as "Black May", between pro-democracy demonstrators and the military in May 1992 which resulted in numerous casualties. The cabinet (42: Prem Tinsulanonda 3 March 1980 – 30 April 1983) passed a resolution in September 1992, to establish a national organization to protect human rights. The national human rights commission was eventually mandated in Article 199 and 200 of the constitution adopted in October 1997, and formally constituted in July 2001. From its inception to 31 May 2005, it received 2,148 complaints of which 1,309 had already been investigated, 559 were still in the process of investigation, and 209 were in the process of evidence gathering. The complaints covered not only civil and political rights, but also other rights including economic, social, and cultural. As for the "clash" that inspired the NHRCT, on 16 May 2002, Amnesty International issued a press release noting that ten years later, justice had still not been served.
Organization and budgetEdit
The NHRCT is composed of the commission, headed by a chairman, and six commissioners. As of 2018[update] the commission chairman is What Tingsamitr. The commission is supported by the Office of the National Human Rights Commission. Its secretary-general as of 2018 is Pirom Sriprasert.
The NHRCT, according to human rights watchdogs, has faced governmental interference since its inception. Commissioners Angkhana Neelaphaijit and Tuenjai Deetes announced their resignations in July 2019, stating they could no longer perform their duties independently and effectively due to restrictive regulations and a hostile and unsupportive office environment. Two other commissioners had resigned earlier.
The NHRCT began to experience difficulties after the Thai military seized power in the 2006 Thailand coup. The commission remained in existence but members have not been appointed to replace those whose terms have come to an end. Saneh Chamarik, chairman of the Commission, defending the coup, stated in an interview, "I do not think [the coup] is about progression or regression [of democracy], but about problem solving." His remark was criticized by Suwit Lertkraimethi, an organizer of the 19 September Network against Coup d'Etat, who noted, "His role is to protect human rights, but his statement showed his approval of human-rights violations." Suwit demanded Saneh's resignation from the NHRCT.
Under the NCPOEdit
Human Rights Watch have charged that, following the 2014 Thai coup d'état, the National Council for Peace and Order, the junta's ruling body, has taken steps to weaken the NHRCT. A 2017 NHRCT Act stripped away its independence and transformed it into a de facto governmental mouthpiece. In early-2019, a sitting NHRCT commissioner who documented rights violations against opposition politicians and critics of the NCPO is under investigation and faces possible impeachment.
The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), formerly the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), and the United Nations Human Rights Council downgraded the NHRCT's global ranking from "A" to "B" in 2015. The action revoked Thailand's privilege to speak from the council floor and present its views during council sessions. The downgrade stemmed from the Thai government's manipulation of the selection process for commissioners and questions about the commission's pro-government political bias. It was determined that the composition of the NHRCT was not diverse, it lacked public input, and it failed to address human rights issues in a timely manner (the NHRCT took three years to complete and publish a report into alleged human rights violations in 2010, and in 2014 had failed to produce a report on incidents in 2013.)
B status means that the NHRCT is not permitted to express its opinions or present written documents to the UN Human Rights Council, it is reduced to observer status at regional and international human rights conferences, and it is stripped of its vote at meetings of the GANHRI.
- On 16 June 2011, the Office of the President of Khon Kaen University (KKU) accused Faculty of Law acting dean Kittibodi Yaipool and his staff of destroying official documents, and barred them from entering the grounds of the faculty. Kittibodi appealed to the NHRCT, which met in July to consider the case. On 28 February 2012, the NHRCT issued a report condemning KKU for arbitrarily and unjustly dismissing Kittibodi, urged the university to exonerate Kittibodi and his personnel, and consider reinstating them to their former positions.
- "About Us". National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Phasuk, Sunai (3 August 2019). "The End of Thailand's Human Rights Commission?". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
- Ken Bhattacharjee (December 1999). "The New National Human Rights Commission Act in Thailand". Focus. Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center. 18. II. Background. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
The impetus to create an independent national human rights commission in Thailand came in May 1992, when the military cracked down on massive pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital, Bangkok, resulting in at least fifty-two deaths, thirty-eight disappearances, and hundreds of injuries
- "The First National Human Rights Commission of Thailand: some reflections of the six-year experience" (PDF). Report submitted at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. Sydney, Australia: Asia Pacific Forum. 24–27 September 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 14, 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
The First National Human Rights Commission of Thailand started in July 2001. Under the National Human Rights Commission Act B.E. 2542 (1999), the commissioners hold office for a six-year term and serve only one term. Subsequently, the present commission ends its term in July 2007 and remains until the newly appointed members take office. It is, therefore, the good opportunity that the report to the 12th Annual Meeting will reflect its experience of the past six years.
- "Thailand: 10 years later — still no justice for the May 1992 victims" (Press release). Amnesty International. 16 May 2002. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
It has been 10 years since the military violently suppressed mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok during May 1992. At least 52 people were killed, hundreds were injured, and 34 'disappeared' without a trace. Yet those responsible have still not been brought to justice.
- "Statistical information on complaints". National Commission on Human Rights of Thailand (NCHRT). Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Profiles of Commissioners". National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Executive Officials". National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Thailand Budget In Brief Fiscal Year 2019. Budget Bureau. 2018. p. 94. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Thai Human Rights Commission being undermined again" (Opinion). The Nation. Human Rights Watch. 2019-05-02. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
- "Activists to hold anti-coup gathering". The Nation. 22 September 2006. Archived from the original on 5 October 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Draper, John (2017-06-23). "New Thai human rights commission organic law a no brainer". Prachatai English. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
- "Beaten human rights watchdog turns AGAINST ITSELF" (Opinion). The Nation. 2019-05-07. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
- Draper, John; Kamnua, Peerasit (2016-02-04). "Downgrading of Thai human rights body a wake-up call" (Opinion). The Nation. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
- "Thai human rights commission fails appraisal". Bangkok Post. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "KKU President Absent, NHRC Hears Law Dean's Case". The Isaan Record. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
- "NHRC Exonerates Law Dean, Condemns KKU". The Isaan Record. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012.