Government designs 2-year human rights map

Pitikan Sithidej (centre) director general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice, vowed at a seminar on Monday to wipe out the country's poor image on human rights. (Photo supplied)

The government has unveiled its plan for a two-year road map that outlines state and private efforts to level up human rights protection, securing its status as a national agenda item.

The equal and fair treatment of all people is something the government wants to see become a reality as it gears toward the much-promoted Thailand 4.0 era, a fourth industrial revolution that focuses on technological advancements and high-level services.

State agencies must "take action that they may have never imagined" to support measures related to human rights, Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief Pitikan Sithidej told a seminar Monday.

The Transport Ministry, for example, has been urged to help the government achieve this goal by designing transport systems nationwide that do not pose any hindrance to disabled persons, she said.

The National Resources and Environment Ministry will not only emphasise the issue of wildlife and pollution, but it also needs to think about how to manage areas so the rights of people as well as the environment are respected, said Ms Pitikan.

She said the Justice Ministry's work also focuses on the protection of human rights.

It has already set up a justice fund to help fund plaintiffs' expenses on surety and during court hearings.

As her ministry sees it, people's access to justice is comparable to "infrastructure", the department chief said.

Action plans in the road map will commit the government to reducing human rights violations every year.

The poor image from past unsuccessful efforts to protect human rights despite the enforcement of national human rights plans must be eradicated, Ms Pitikan added, saying a lack of coordination by some state agencies caused the failure.

The agenda will be presented to the cabinet for approval and is expected to be promulgated on International Human Rights Day on Dec 10.

According to the department, a total of 800 complaints concerning human rights issues were reported last year.

Unequal access to justice topped the complaints, as 26% of complainants cried foul over that rights violation.

Nearly 11% concerned complaints over status and civil rights.

International human rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn welcomed the government's new national agenda. The protection of civil and political rights for citizens must be emphasised, he said.

"Many aspects still need to be addressed to enhance human rights protection, particularly political and civil rights, if this plan is to be sustainable," he said.

"The government needs to liberalise and open up political space for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to really respond to human development and human rights as a whole," he said.

He added the human rights situation in Thailand has improved over time as many issues have been effectively addressed.

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