People stand behind makeshift bars wearing masks of Thai human rights activist Jatupat "Pai" Boonpattararaksa, who was arrested in early December 2016 and charged with lese majeste, during a demonstration marking Jatupat's sixth month in custody, in Bangkok on June 22. (Photo by Lillian Suwanrumph/AFP)
A bill revamping Thailand's human rights commission would seriously weaken the agency and should be substantially revised, says a leading rights body.
A draft law on the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand was approved mid-August by Thai junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the changes harm the commission's functions and performance, and its selections process and qualifications.
"The bill needs to be taken back to the drawing board to fix the serious errors that will erode, not empower, Thailand's human rights commission," said Brad Adams, Asia director for HRW. "The commission needs to be able to stand as an independent bulwark against the further downhill slide of human rights in Thailand."
"More than ever, Thailand needs an independent and committed human rights commission willing to stand up to the rampant abuses being committed by the military junta," said Adams.
"Instead, the National Legislative Assembly has rubber-stamped a draft law that will weaken the rights commission, take away its independence, and turn it into a government mouthpiece."
The bill must be vetted by the Constitution Drafting Committee and the Human Rights Commission itself before a final national assembly vote within 25 days, said HRW.