The following is a press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
In response to Amnesty International’s Report 2012 published on 24 May 2012, regarding the state of human rights in Thailand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state the following:
1. With regard to the Southern Border Provinces (SBPs), the situation in the SBPs does not meet the criteria for it to be regarded as an internal armed conflict in accordance with international humanitarian law. Violence in the SBPs has been perpetrated by local extremists for the purpose of creating social divisions. Nevertheless, the AI report undeniably points out that discriminate attacks against civilians is a serious concern in the SBPs. As such, the Government has placed utmost importance on the safety of civilians. In addition to implementing security measures, the Government has attached importance to the promotion of human rights, respect for local culture identity, development and local participation to address the root causes of violence. We believe that, in the long run, the Thai Government’s unwavering adherence to a peaceful approach, including human rights awareness, will lead to a betterment in the situation.
2. Regarding freedom of expression in Thailand, as in other democratic societies, Thai people enjoy their constitutional rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. However, those who abuse their rights by spreading hate speeches or distorted information to incite violence and hatred among Thais as well as the monarchical institution in contravention of the law have to be held accountable in accordance with the law. The rationale behind both the lese-majeste law and the 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act is not to limit the freedom of expression or to curb the right to legitimate exercise of academic freedom. The lese-majeste law gives protection to the rights and reputations of the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent in a similar way that libel law — which is a criminal offence — does for commoners. At the same time, while the 2007 Computer Crimes Act empowers the authorities to suspend access to websites to prevent and suppress a wide range of criminal and harmful activities committed via computers and the internet, the law requires that court approval be granted before any such action can be taken as a safeguard against its abusive application with no intention to violate people’s rights. In addition, persons charged with lese-majeste offences are entitled to the same rights as those charged with other criminal offences, including the right to a fair trial and legal assistance.
3. Referring to the issue of displaced persons from Myanmar, the report’s claim that Thailand discouraged aid organizations from providing food and other humanitarian assistance to displaced persons is factually incorrect. The Thai authorities concerned continue to work closely with various humanitarian partners including over 20 NGOs in ensuring the provision of protection and assistance for the benefit of those displaced persons in 9 temporary shelters along the Thai-Myanmar border. In particular, we are looking to promote concrete improvements on the ground, including advocacy for better delivery of food, education, healthcare, and other key services. At the same time, we are solutions-oriented and will continue to consult with all stakeholders, including our counterparts across the border, the UNHCR as well as the displaced persons themselves, on possible future scenarios that may address their plight. We hope the international community will continue to support our efforts in this regard.
4. On capital punishment, this is an issue in which more discussions at the national level are still needed as views still vary among different sectors of the society. Thailand takes this issue very seriously and careful consideration is being placed on this matter.
For further information, please contact the Press Division, Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tel.02-6435170, Fax.02-6435169, E-mail: [email protected]