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UPR Submission: Human Rights Defenders and Fundamental Freedoms in Thailand

Year of publication: 2021

This submission analyses fundamental freedoms in Thailand during its third UPR cycle from May 2016 until this submission’s date of 24 March 2021. Within this period, Thailand has installed a new monarch; adopted a new constitution; and transitioned from an imposed to (ostensibly) elected military administration. Since July 2020, these changes have inspired mass civilian protests most commonly calling for the prime minister’s resignation, amendment of the new constitution, and reform of the monarchy.

In this context, this submission focuses on human rights defenders (HRDs) ranging from first-time protesters through to seasoned human rights advocates. All enjoy fundamental freedoms thanks to Thailand’s commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its support of relevant UPR recommendations and Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 to “protect fundamental freedoms”.

However, this submission details how fundamental freedoms have been eroded in Thailand, particularly under Covid-19 related emergency rule. It addresses public participation; freedom of expression and access to information; lèse-majesté; freedom of assembly and association; enforced disappearances and torture; and institutional human rights protection/promotion. The following annexes are also submitted:

Annex A: Assessment of Thailand’s implementation of past UPR recommendations
Annex B: Laws relevant to fundamental freedoms during Thailand’s third UPR cycle
Annex C: Known disappearance cases during Thailand’s third UPR cycle
Annex D: Select cases threatening fundamental freedoms during Thailand’s third UPR cycle

This submission is a joint submission by Destination Justice, the Cross-Cultural Foundation, Duay Jay (Hearty Support) Group, the Human Rights Lawyers Association, the Justice for Peace Foundation and Asia Centre.