On 11 May 2016, Thailand accepted 181 of the 249 recommendations made by UN Member States as part of the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Following the review, CSOs engaged with the Royal Thai Government (RTG) to discuss the remaining 68 pending recommendations, to either be accepted or noted during the final UPR adoption on 23 September 2016.
On 13 September 2016, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) organised a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR to discuss key issues concerning the coalition in regards to the remaining recommendations to be reviewed.
A representative for Indigenous Peoples called for the Royal Thai Government to accept the pending recommendation to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169. Accepting the recommendation would recognise the rights of indigenous communities in Thailand, and grant land rights to ancestral land.
Phnom Thano, Indigenous Peoples speaker, identified legal barriers that prevent the right to property. He shared the controversial recent Administrative Court Case legalising the forced eviction of Karen Community members from their ancestral land. He stressed on the impossibility for indigenous communities to access justice, as their lives are not considered as life testimonies (evidence) by the Judicial system. This legal barrier lies on the lack of legal recognition and protection of indigenous communities, as well as on the irresponsible governance of land tenure in the country.
On 23 September 2016, The Royal Thai Government accepted 6 of the remaining 68 pending recommendations at the final adoption of the UPR. The recently accepted recommendations are:
Recommendation 159.10 (Philippines)
Consider ratifying ILO Convention No.189
Recommendation 159.17 (Canada)
Create an independent body to investigate all torture allegations, including in Thailand’s Deep South, and bring perpetrators to justice
Recommendation 159.30 (France)
Commute the death sentences with a view to abolishing the death penalty
Recommendation 159.31 (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
In line with the rules 83-85 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, “the Nelson Mandela rules”, to create an external, independent inspection body that has access to all categories of prisoners in all places of detention that are under the Ministry of Justice
Recommendation 159.35 (Kyrgyzstan)
Further address all forms of gender-based violence and abuses by revising the relevant provisions of the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Domestic Violence Victim Protection Act
Recommendation 159.49 (Timor-Leste)
Eliminate the legal provision that states that the age limit of marriage could be lowered to 13 years old in cases where children were sexually abused and could consequently marry the perpetrators.
During the final adoption, the Thai delegation informed the Human Rights Council that Thailand has begun lifting restrictive measures imposed by the military government since the 2014 Coup. For instance, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued Order 55/2016 on 12 September 2016. The Order states that any national security crime committed after 12 September will be tried in a civilian court, rather than a military court. Whilst the Order does not apply to retroactive cases, the Thai Delegation stressed the importance of the Order as a means to enact on the rights of Thai citizens through civilian courts. Several countries, including the UK and the United States, welcomed the NCPO Order 55 and called on the RTG to ensure the 500,000 civilians currently prosecuted under military courts for charges filed before 12 September 2016 could also be tried under civilian courts. Further, following the UPR in May, the Thai delegation indicated the RTG started implementing recommendations related to Business and Human Rights, torture and enforced disappearances.
UPR Info Asia together with MOJ, and the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR will meet again in December 2016 in the co-organised ‘National Dialogue to Foster Cooperation Among All UPR Stakeholders’. The goal of the national dialogue will be to ensure the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR can effectively contribute to the 4th National Human Rights Action Plan, to be in line with UPR recommendations.