Thailand's human rights record 'worrying'

Thailand's human rights record 'worrying'

Human rights violations in Thailand have worsened after the coup last May and the situation remains worrying, Amnesty International says.

In its annual report entitled "Amnesty International Report 2014/15: the State of the World's Human Rights", the organisation accused the post-coup government of imposing harsh restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly on the pretext of "national security".

"The May coup in Thailand and imposition of martial law saw many people detained arbitrarily, political gatherings of more than five people banned and the trial of civilians in military courts with no right of appeal," Amnesty International said in its report released yesterday.

It also said torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners while in military detention, as well as by police, were reported in Thailand.

In a section about Thailand, the report said, "Political tensions prevailed through the year and human rights protection weakened.

Armed violence continued in the southern border provinces. Freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly were severely restricted, leading to the arbitrary arrest of many individuals, some of whom became prisoners of conscience."

"No significant progress was made in addressing widespread official impunity for human rights violations," it said.

Amnesty International also voiced concern for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

"There's a muzzle on free speech across the Asia-Pacific region. Speaking out is becoming a crime in too many countries, leaving media and civil society less space to operate," said Richard Bennett, the organisation's Asia Pacific director.

"Over the past year, we saw governments use draconian security laws to suppress civil society, locking up and punishing critical voices on the pretext of 'national security'.

States are growing increasingly fearful of the power of new technology and are suppressing the use of online tools," he said.

Amnesty International also forecast an increasing crackdown on freedom of expression in the Asia-Pacific region. Legislation is being used to silence people critical of the authorities in South Korea, Thailand and Myanmar, it said.

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