Professor of law at Chulalongkorn University
Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn teaches at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. He has helped the UN in a variety of positions and is currently a member of a UN Human Rights Commission of Inquiry. This article is derived from his speech at the recent Conference on Asean Traversing 2015: Challenges of Development, Democratisation, Human Rights and Peace, organised by Mahidol University, Bangkok.
The country's State of Emergency Decree became law in 2005 and since then, it has been one of the most contested laws. Yet, it has been one of the instruments most frequently used by the executive branch of government and is currently the main law for tackling Covid-19. Does the decree comply with international standards?
One of the interesting developments in Thailand is that official circles are gradually moving away from the death penalty as a sanction against crimes. This is witnessed by the Ministry of Justice's campaign to invite the public to look at options beyond the death penalty. What if there is a large proportion of the population in the country which still favours its retention rather than abolition? There is a need to balance with the international trend and the country's obligations.
The desperate situation in Myanmar calls for concerted international solidarity to counter the Feb 1 coup d'etat and its heinous consequences. To date, scores of people have been killed by junta forces, while several thousands have been detained. The crisis compounds two disquieting situations of a longstanding and multi-faceted nature in the country -- the mistreatment of the Rohingya population (a Muslim community) and the decades-long civil war between the authorities and different ethnic groups.
The issue of bail is critically important for Thailand and is especially relevant to the gap between the rich and the poor. It is also emblematic of the chasm between power derived from the coup d'etat and the aspirations of a democratic and just society.
Dec 10 is International Human Rights Day, coinciding with Thailand's Constitution Day. It recalls particularly a seminal event: the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN in 1948. This has propelled many human rights standards against which the record at the national level is measured. Not only did it entrench the universality of human rights -- the premise that there are international standards, backed by a range of declarations and treaties, applying globally, but also the indivisibility of human rights -- the connectivity between civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
National security -- coupled with public health -- has been invoked in many countries to justify actions to curb the spread of Covid-19. It has led to a variety of actions, including curfews, lockdown, quarantine and other measures to stem the tide of the novel coronavirus disease. This is, therefore, not only the right time to validate its use, but also to recalibrate its scope and application, in order to ensure and maintain a sense of reasonableness and equilibrium.
There are about 270 million international migrants today who cross borders in search of new vistas. Many such as "expatriates" do well. However, many, particularly those who are pushed out of their homes, are caught in a trap of dislocation, dispossession and coercion, often due to armed conflicts, discrimination and violence. The number of forced migrants now stands at about 70 million people globally -- some 30 million who cross borders as "refugees" and some 40 million forced to move in their country of origin as "internally displaced persons".