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KINGDOM OF THAILAND: Thailand: Human rights protections must be upheld

22 Sep 2006
Region: KINGDOM OF THAILAND
Topic: Individual at risk
Following a military coup d'etat and the declaration of martial law in Thailand yesterday, Amnesty International called for the military authorities to comply with Thailand's obligations under international human rights law.
The organisation expressed particular concern that the constitution has been rescinded, political gatherings have been banned, impositions announced on internet reporting and politicians detained.

No one should be penalized for their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association or assembly. Furthermore, anyone taken into military custody must either be charged within a reasonable time with a recognizably criminal offence, or released.

Political gatherings of more than five people have been banned, with a penalty of six months imprisonment. Coup council leaders have also called on the media to "cover news truthfully and constructively in order to promote unity in the country", and requested that the Ministry of Telecommunications control or block the distribution of information through the internet that may affect the council's work.

Coup leaders are reported to have stated that Thaksin Shinawatra's Deputy Prime Minister, Chidchai Vanasatidya is in custody and that his Secretary General, Prommin Lertsuridej, has been “invited to stay” at army headquarters. Several others, including a cabinet member, are reported to have been detained or had their movement restricted.

Background
Thai military commanders seized power from the Thai government on 19 September 2006 and announced today that they will install a caretaker civilian administration within a fortnight. They also stated that they would draft a new constitution and hold elections within a year. Martial law has been declared, and Thailand's 1997 constitution abolished.

The coup leaders have announced that they will abide by UN and international standards in accordance with Thailand's obligations under the international conventions to which is party. Key obligations under international human rights law also include upholding the right to life, and the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances. Arbitrary detention is prohibited. All detention should be subject to judicial control, and no one should be held incommunicado.

Following a military coup in February 1991, the military violently suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok in May 1992. At least 52 people were killed, hundreds injured, and more than 30 persons "disappeared". No one has been brought to justice for these violations, and the full account of inquiries into the incident has not been published.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Public Statement

AI Index: ASA 39/013/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 244
20 September 2006

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