UN official urges respect for human rights, restoration of rule of law following Thai coup

23 May 2014

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged Thailand to ensure respect for human rights and a prompt restoration of the rule of law, echoing a call made yesterday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following the military coup.

“My office has been closely monitoring the political turbulence in Thailand for the last five months and I am deeply concerned about the forcible replacement of an elected Government, the imposition of martial law, the suspension of the Constitution and the emergency measures that are restricting the enjoyment of human rights,” said Navi Pillay.

A news release issued by the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR) noted that since yesterday, 21 announcements and three Orders have been issued by the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) – the new body that has seized power from the caretaker government.

The 11th announcement suspended constitutional rights and freedoms. Six announcements severely restricts freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, including censorship of all media outlets, closure of television and radio stations, prohibition of information critical of the NPOMC, restrictions on internet and prohibition of political gatherings of more than five people.

“I am very concerned by the restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by the NPOMC,” Ms. Pillay said, adding that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are particularly important in resolving difficult political issues through dialogue and debate.

OHCHR also noted that yesterday afternoon before the first announcement was made by the NPOMC, senior leaders of political factions were invited to the Army club, subsequently detained, before being transferred to the First Infantry Regiment, King's Guards.

Overnight, under three successive Orders issued by the NPOMC, 155 individuals were summoned to the army bases, including former cabinet members of the Government, Redshirts leaders, family members of Pheu Thai parliamentarians and some PDRC leaders. They continue to be under detention in different army bases.

According to media reports, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and a number of her family members have also now been detained.

“The military detention of senior politicians and civilians is very disturbing and I urge the NPOMC to immediately release them,” the High Commissioner stated.

“I remind the authorities that the implementation of any emergency measures must comply with international human rights standards. The right to life and the prohibition against torture cannot be breached, regardless of the circumstances.”

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Ban calls for return to civilian order in Thailand after military seizes government

Appealing for “a prompt return to civilian order” in Thailand, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed serious concern about the military takeover in the country today and urged all parties to respect human rights and refrain from violence.