Norway welcomes the delegation of Thailand. We thank the delegation for the presentation of their national report and the substantive responses provided to questions and concerns raised in the context of this review.
Norway appreciates the cooperation between Thailand and the UN Human Rights mechanisms, including the support given to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, especially in Women and Children, during her recent visit to Thailand. Thailand faces great challenges as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, and Norway recommends Thailand to accede to the Palermo Protocol and to continue improving its implemen¬tation of the relevant policy and legal framework.
Being a cross-border crime, human trafficking can only be effectively com¬bated through government collaboration and coordination across borders, and Norway is proud to sup¬port the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Human Trafficking (COMMIT) implemen¬ted by the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (UNIAP).
Inspired by the recent visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, Norway recommends that Thailand consider favourably the request for visits by other thematic mandate holders, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Norway acknowledges Thailand’s need to find a balance between protecting the constitutional monarchy and the right of individuals to express their views, as stated in the national report. Norway is concerned, however, about the dramatic increase in the number of lèse majesté criminal charges and convictions in recent years, and the effect which the strict application of Article 112 in the Thai Penal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act has had on the freedom of expression. Norway recommends that Thailand ensures public and transparent procedings in cases concerning violations of the lèse majesté legis¬lation and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, and recommends Thailand to strengthen efforts to ensure adequate legal counselling for all persons charged for violations of these laws.
Being a fellow constitutional monarchy, Norway also has lèse majesté legis¬lation, but prosecution pursuant to the relevant articles may only be initiated by order of the King or with His consent. This prevents the law from being misused for political purposes. Norway recommends a thorough review of the relevant laws to safeguard the basic right to freedom of opinion and expression, and stands ready to share its experience and legal expertise in this area.
Norway is concerned about the many challenges related to the administration of justice in Thailand, in particular the lack of access to justice for victims of violent incidents in later years, and impunity for government officials and members of state security forces involved in the same incidents. This is a particular problem in the South, where emergency laws have been in force for many years without any marked improvement of the situation.
During the Council’s 14th session in June 2010, Norway called on the government of Thailand to ensure that an independent investigation of the events in Bangkok in April/May last year be conducted and all those found responsible for human rights violations are held to account.
Norway welcomed the establishment of an independent Truth for Reconciliation Commission, which also enjoys the support of the new Thai government. Norway would recommend, however, that the Commission be given powers to subpoena and protect witnesses to ensure that the whole truth is established and justice may be served, for the sake of the victims and in order to promote national reconciliation.