NHRC risks Tuesday downgrade Commissioners plead for public sympathy

NHRC risks Tuesday downgrade Commissioners plead for public sympathy

Thailand's human rights commissioners have pleaded for public sympathy for their "hard work" in protecting Thai people's rights and liberties over the past six years.

The rights commission risks being downgraded by the Geneva-based international governing body Tuesday evening, Thailand time.

Amara Pongsapich, chairwoman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said the seven-member panel has worked on appeals and complaints including some inherited from the country's first NHRC panel.

However, the large number of cases made it impossible to tackle all of them and it had to pass 958 appeals on to the third panel selected recently.

"We've done work in a number of areas that people don't realise, including policy and law recommendations, networking with civic groups, and international cooperation. We focus on human rights and fair natural resources management, the rights of risk groups, the justice system and southern Thailand," Ms Amara said.

The International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions' Sub-Committee on Accreditation (ICC-SCA), warned Thailand in March that the NHRC risked being downgraded by the international body, as it has failed to observe the Paris Principles of minimum human rights standards and procedures. The final decision will be made Tuesday.

Local civil society organisations have also rejected the choice of seven new human rights commissioners, saying a more democratic selection process should be put in place first.

Ms Amara said the ICC had misunderstood a number of things which the NHRC has explained but she conceded the outcome was beyond her control as the ICC's two main concerns -- the NHRC law and the selection process -- were in the hands of the government.

"It's not that we haven't done anything or we don't care, but it's beyond our authority," she said.

Thailand and South Korea are tipped to be downgraded to B status, while Nepal, Mongolia and Afghanistan look set to maintain A status.

The levels of ICC-SCA accreditation denote varying levels of participation rights and related privileges, such as voting rights and governance positions, within the United Nations human rights system.

Asked how the commissioners rated their work given the large number of rights violations and abuses still prevalent, Ms Amara said it was up to the public to judge but the NHRC has looked into key incidents of political violence, including the red-shirt protests in 2010 and the People's Democratic Reform Committee demonstrations in 2014, with a "heavy heart".

Niran Pitakwatchara, a commissioner, said Thai society has yet to learn and transform.

"Of course, the commissioners have done a number of things but there is a lot to be done including how to undertake national reform, reconciliation, deal with impunity, and introduce remedial measures," Mr Niran said.

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