EU ramps up pressure on Prayut at UN
The European Union (EU) delegation called Thursday for the government to respect basic freedoms and restore democracy as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
Gen Prayut will appoint 21 members of a Constitutional Drafting Committee to draft a new charter after he returns from the UN meeting.
"At a time when the drafting process of a new constitution is starting, the EU delegation again calls upon the Thai government to respect freedom of speech and assembly. Only a full and free public debate in which critical voices can be heard will allow for true reform and reconciliation," the EU body said.
The rule of law and the protection and promotion of human rights are crucial elements for stability and progress. It called upon Thai authorities to abide by the country's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. "As a friend and partner of Thailand, the EU has repeatedly called for the democratic process to be restored," it said.
The EU's message was delivered a day after human-rights groups around the world urged member countries of the UN to pressure Gen Prayut to end repression of human rights and restore democratic civilian rule.
The US-based Human Rights Watch said the General Assembly presented an important opportunity for government heads and UN officials to urge Gen Prayut to "act immediately" on a broad range of rights concerns, including the military's sweeping and unchecked powers.
Government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd responded to Human Rights Watch Thursday, saying the government aims to restore democracy as its key goal, but needs time to reform society first.
"The UN General Assembly will be an arena for the prime minister to tell the world about the process of democratic development in Thailand. The government has been strictly following a roadmap to create better and true democracy in the country," he said.
Gen Prayut has exercised his special powers via Section 44 of the interim charter only for constructive purposes, he said.