National HR Commission urges public to be consulted on passing new laws-Nation

March 17, 2012

Panel urges more public participation in making laws

The Nation: March 14, 2012

Thailand’s laws do not uphold human rights, and fail to bridge the country’s socio-economic and political divides, according to participants in a symposium organised by the government’s Legal Reform Committee.

National Human Rights commissioner Nirand Pitakwatchara said citizens ought to play a greater role in passing legislation to ensure their rights are truly protected and that they benefit from the law.

Nirand said laws should not only be viewed from the perspective of governance, but should also respect human rights in a non-patronising fashion.

“Thai society has deep political disparity, and this leads to violations of citizens’ rights, such as the security laws in the southern border areas, where since 2004 martial law has been imposed despite its lack of efficacy. This shows that the wrong medicine is being applied,” he said, adding that laws restricting citizens’ right to freedom of assembly have dehumanised demonstrators over the past two to three years and led to deep political divides.

“The Computer Crimes Act has also been used to limit freedom of expression and should be amended or abolished in order to protect citizens’ rights,” he said.

Sayamol Krayurawong, director of the Project for the Fostering of Ecological Consciousness, said she is worried that natural resources are being plundered by the state, which fails to pass laws based on the principle of the rule of law and community rights. Legal cases on environmental disputes are often judged according to the letter of the law, which is too narrow, she said.

Sayamol said she’s worried about how small farmers who rent land will be affected when Asean moves toward a single market in 2015. She said 59 per cent of farmers have to rent land for farming, and multi-national corporations could exploit the situation, leading to many farmers being pushed into becoming factory workers.

Somchai Hom-laor, a member of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT), expressed concerns about laws restricting the right to political assembly, saying it could impact farmers who wish to demonstrate to let the government know about their plight.

Somchai said other laws that need to be reviewed include the election law, for forcing people who have been working in a province for a long time to return to the place of their household registration to vote, causing a lot of inconvenience and sometimes hurting voter turnout.

People also need more bargaining power in the process of drafting laws, Somchai said.


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