NCPO stands by detentions

NCPO stands by detentions

Govt PR campaign fails to impress US

Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), says the
Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), says the "exaggerated" worries by the US about junta detentions proves the US has an attitude problem. (Photo courtesy PRD)

US concern over the military's controversial power to detain people has come as no surprise as it is the same attitude held by groups opposing the government, a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman said.

Col Winthai Suwaree said concern expressed by the US in a new report were similar to comments made by other countries about the NCPO's stringent approach to politics. As a result, he cannot help but question whether these exaggerated worries were based on reliable facts.

"If other countries, especially the United States, have still not understood us, we have to keep on fostering [better] understanding," he said.

He was responding to the release in the US on Wednesday night of the State Department's 2015 country report for Thailand on human rights practices, in which the department criticises the military government and NCPO for its use of its power to limit civil liberties, particularly restrictions on freedom of speech, gatherings and the media.

Regarding the situation in the deep South, the report warned against human rights abuses against those detained by security forces, including suspected insurgents.

Corruption, trafficking in persons and limited labour rights were also mentioned in the report as issues in need of improvement.

The report particularly criticises the NCPO's use of powers under Section 44 of the interim charter to detain people who speak their mind and send them for "attitude adjustments".

The provision enables Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as the NCPO chief, to exercise the powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches on matters of security and national interest.

The detentions, which have recently resulted in former Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook being summoned by the military following his opposition to the draft charter, have highlighted tensions between human rights protections and the need to maintain order in Thailand's fragile political environment.

The NCPO has to use Section 44 to enhance law enforcement because the country is in an abnormal situation, Col Winthai said. The military has not received any negative responses from people following detention orders, he claimed.

Instead, he said, many people appear to be more confident in laws which are now more strictly enforced.

Col Winthai played down US concerns over human right issues, insisting detentions "don't necessarily mean human rights violations. It depends on how we interpret them".

When a person voices different views, unsuitable to the current situation, the NCPO needs to summon them to adjust their opinions, it is a call for cooperation, he said.

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