UN Human Rights Chief deeply concerned at growing military role in Thai Government


Zeidmilitary.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Friday expressed growing concern about the military’s deepening role in Thailand’s civilian administration, as well as tight curbs on dissent, as the Kingdom prepares to vote on a final draft Constitution.

“High Commissioner Zeid said that several critics of the draft Constitution have already been arbitrarily arrested, detained and harassed since the draft was made public at the end of March.” Read more...

Press briefing notes on Myanmar


Myanmarflag.GENEVA (12 April 2016) – The High Commissioner warmly welcomes the release Sunday of a second wave of 83 prisoners on Myanmar's New Year, by Presidential amnesty.

“Released prisoners include land rights activist Naw Ohn Hla who had been jailed six times for various peaceful protests; human rights defender Nay Myo Zin; community campaigner Htin Kyaw; five journalists from the Unity newspaper who were sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014 after the publication of an article; four labour activists convicted for supporting garment workers on strike; and Htin Lin Oo, sentenced in 2015 to two years in prison with hard labour for "insulting religion" after he delivered a speech criticising the misuse of religion to incite religious hatred.” Read more...

Release of political prisoners in Myanmar hailed by UN expert


Myanmarflag.GENEVA (12 April 2016) – The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, welcomes the recent release of political prisoners as a truly significant moment for Myanmar. She also welcomes the commitment by State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to release additional political prisoners as a fundamental step towards further democratic transition and national reconciliation.

“It was particularly touching to see the joyful scenes across the country as individuals, who should never have been imprisoned for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, were freed and able to reunite with their families. As one political prisoner told me in Insein Prison last year, these men and women want to help bring more positive changes to Myanmar. Now they can take their rightful part in the country’s continuing transformation. This is a truly significant moment for Myanmar.” Read more...

UN Human Rights Office concerned by ongoing use of death penalty in Singapore


Singaporeflag.BANGKOK (5 April 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is concerned by the Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision on Tuesday to uphold the death sentence given to Kho Jabing of Malaysia and urges the Government to immediately establish a moratorium on capital punishment.

“We are gravely concerned that Mr. Kho is at imminent risk of hanging as the court has lifted the stay of execution,” said Laurent Meillan, OHCHR’s acting regional representative in Bangkok. “We are also concerned that he has been forced to endure years of immense suffering as his sentence has been changed on a number of occasions.” Read more...

UN expert urges Cambodia to strengthen protection of women and indigenous peoples’ rights


CambodiaSmith. GENEVA/PHNOM PENH/BANGKOK (1 April 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, called on the Cambodian authorities to further strengthen the protection of women and indigenous peoples’ rights in the country.

“Of great concern to me is the prevalence of violence against women, which continues to present itself as a pervasive human rights violation in Cambodia and women who have suffered sexual and gender-based violence encounter barriers when perpetrators should be brought swiftly to justice,” Ms. Smith said at the end of her second official visit to Cambodia. Read more...

UN Human Rights Office concerned by convictions against Vietnam bloggers


Vietnamflag.BANGKOK (24 March 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is very concerned by the conviction of well-known Vietnamese political blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy on anti-state charges.

The OHCHR Regional Office also expressed concern about the conduct of the hearing, and its respect for the principle of fair trial in line with international law. Read more...

Technical Note: Key human rights principles for the draft constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand


thaiflag.BANGKOK (24 March 2016) – In light of the ongoing constitution drafting process* in Thailand, the UN Human Rights Office has produced a technical note that summarizes some key human rights principles that should be incorporated in the draft constitution to ensure its compliance with Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law.

This note focuses on a few key areas of the draft constitution, namely the sections on the rights and liberties of the Thai population; the duties of the State; and the provisions on transitions.

* On 29 January 2016, the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) made public the first draft of the new constitution seeking comments from the public and interested organizations. Read more...

In Thailand’s far south, OHCHR calls for protection of civilians and medics at all times


thaiflag.BANGKOK (16 March 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) deplores the recent actions of armed insurgents who took over a public hospital in the far south of Thailand and used it to launch an attack against government forces.

Hospitals, medical units and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law, and they should not be targeted or used for military purposes at any time. Read more...

UN expert urges Pacific Rim countries not to sign TPP without human rights


TPP protester.GENEVA (2 February 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas called on Governments not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without reaffirming their human rights treaty obligations and their recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order in a statement* made public today. Read more...

File Photo: Activists take part in a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Lima, Peru, 22 January 2015. (EPA).

OHCHR calls on Thai authorities to drop all charges against student activists


thaiflag.BANGKOK (22 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) urges the Thai military to drop all charges against 11 student activists arrested for violating a ban on political gatherings.

Sirawit Seritiwat, a student activist with the New Democracy Movement, said he was apprehended by uniformed men near Thammasat University campus in the capital Bangkok late on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, Chonticha Jaeng-rew, Chanoknan Ruamsap and Korakoch Saengyenpan visited Sirawit at the police station where he was being held, and were themselves charged with the same offence. Read more...

OHCHR says encouraged by Cambodia decision to register Montagnards for refugee status


OHCHRlogo.BANGKOK (21 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said on Thursday it was encouraged by the Cambodian Government's pledge to assess the refugee claims of more than 170 Montagnards from Vietnam.

OHCHR calls upon the Royal Government to process all the asylum claims in a fair and efficient way, and in compliance with international standards. Read more...

UN human rights chief Zeid identifies "extremist" challenges


Zeidinterview.NEW YORK (18 January 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke with the UN News Centre about the challenges ahead in human rights and the challenges of serving as High Commissioner after a career in multilateral diplomacy.

Some highlights:

"The moment we do not support the human rights agenda we see it rolling back in many parts of the world."

"In the diplomatic world, you’re negotiating, there is some etiquette involved – in the world of human rights, and particularly from the side of the High Commissioner, it’s a lot of straight-talking and it creates tension which in the past I never used to experience."

""The rise of violent extremism and extremist thinking has greatly affected the way in which governments approach human rights, and, in particular, we’ve seen governments put pressure on civil society as a way to fend off extremist thinking."

Read the full interview...

Zeid urges Thailand to fully investigate enforced disappearances


Somchai.GENEVA (6 January 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday urged the Thai Government to take decisive and sustained efforts to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared, including respected lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who went missing nearly 12 years ago.

Zeid also called on the Thai Government to criminalize enforced disappearance in its legislation, in line with international standards.Read more...

File Photo: A Thai activist holds a placard next to a photograph of a missing lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit during in a rally in 2004. (EPA).

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