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UN human rights chief calls on Thailand to take steps towards reconciliation

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

UN human rights chief calls on Thailand to take steps towards reconciliation

The United Nations human rights chief today welcomed the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) and called on the South-east Asian country to implement its recommendations to advance accountability and understanding among different segments of its society.

“In spite of its limited mandate and initial difficulties, the TRCT has conducted an important investigation into political violence and human rights violations in Thailand,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “The Royal Thai Government now has the responsibility to act on the TRCT’s recommendations, both in holding State officials to account and addressing the institutional weaknesses identified in the report.”

During April and May 2010, demonstrations took place in Thailand, leading to violence in which 92 people died and thousands were injured. On 6 July 2010, the Government established the TRCT with the mandate to seek truth and reconciliation.

While the final report fails to specify who was responsible for the deaths during the demonstrations, it contains substantive findings backed by forensic evidence and recommends urgent action to bring perpetrators to justice, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a news release.

In particular, the report stresses the importance of the army remaining neutral in political affairs, the need to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and a proposal to review article 112 of the criminal code in order to protect freedom of expression in Thailand.

“Making the legal and institutional reforms recommended in the report will strengthen Thai democracy,” Ms. Pillay said. “Bringing perpetrators to justice will not only set an important precedent for Thailand but for South-east Asia as a whole.”

OHCHR noted that concerns have been raised about preserving the evidence gathered by the TRCT, and Ms. Pillay urged the Government to take the necessary steps to protect the information collected as this is essential for the pursuit of accountability.

Another report on the 2010 political violence by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand is also expected to be released soon and will provide a further detailed account of human rights violations, OHCHR stated.