'Fundamental rights at stake'

GENEVA - "Stability and reconciliation can hardly be achieved in Thailand if human rights guarantees are neglected," a group of United Nations (UN) independent experts said on Friday, while urging the current authorities to reverse all measures affecting basic rights and to restore democratic rule in the country.

In moments of political crisis and turbulence, it is crucial to promote the full respect of the rule of law, the human rights experts stressed.

The various limitations to fundamental rights put in place since the military assumed control of the country and the constitution was suspended are deeply disturbing, they noted. Reportedly numerous individuals remain arbitrarily detained, and unacceptable restrictions continue to be imposed on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Particular concern was expressed with regard to the chilling effects of the summoning by the military of more than 440 individuals, including political leaders, academics, journalists and activists to army bases. Many remain in detention without access to family or lawyer. Some are held incommunicado in unknown locations and may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Public criticism of authorities and the freedom of the Thai media are negatively affected by various measures, including the ban on political gatherings of more than five persons and the reported closure of a vast number of community radios, they said.

Restoring the space for public dialogue is crucial to allow durable solutions to the political impasse affecting Thailand to be forged, the experts underscored.

The group of experts requested information from the current authorities on multiple allegations of human rights violations they received after the imposition of martial law on May 22, 2014.

The experts said they remain ready to engage in dialogue with the country authorities.

The experts include Mr Mads Andenas, Chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Mr Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and Mr Juan E Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

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