Amnesty International Thailand convened an event for civil society organisations to discuss human rights policies relevant to political parties amid the upcoming general elections.
EngageMedia joined a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) calling on political parties and candidates to commit to protecting human and digital rights during the press conference titled “Civil Society’s Agenda for the 2023 Election”. Held last April 4, 2023 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, the conference featured the launch of a human rights policy recommendation report by Amnesty International Thailand. The event also shed light on human rights policies recommended by CSOs for action by political parties.
In February and March 2023, Amnesty International Thailand conducted public hearings to gather information on the human rights situation in the country and formulate recommendations for political parties. The data from these hearings, along with the Thai government’s commitment to international standards, were analysed and presented as a human rights policy report. The report aimed to communicate the importance of human rights policies to political parties and the general public. It also urged political parties to uphold their human rights commitments in their policy work and campaigns, especially amid the upcoming general election.
Part of the Agenda directly addresses online Freedom of Expression and Right to Information, as echoed in the 4-point Digital Rights Agenda produced by EngageMedia, Asia Centre, and the Chiang Mai University-School of Public Policy. Photo credit: Amnesty International Thailand Facebook
During a roundtable CSO hearing last March 7 and 8, 2023, EngageMedia’s Digital Rights Project Officer for Thailand, Prapasiri Suttisome, presented the 4-point Digital Rights Agenda for Political Parties to highlight the need to ensure that digital rights are given the same level of consideration as other fundamental human rights. She emphasised how the widespread use of digital technologies in modern society creates new challenges for protecting human rights.
Human and digital rights considerations for political parties
Amnesty International Thailand’s human rights policy report includes recommendations from civil society on various issues covering the environment, human rights, economy, disability, labour, and children and youth. The report is designed to be presented to political parties, foreign governments, and anyone interested in civil society policy. It also includes information on laws or orders that restrict, deprive, or threaten access to the rights of individuals and societies, as well as measures to prevent human rights violations and establish mechanisms to support victims in accessing justice.
During the panel discussion at the report launch press conference, Sarinee Archawanantakul, Managing Director of Knowledge Development, Sal Forest Co., Ltd. raised important digital rights concerns on privacy and digital security that party candidates should address.
She asked: “Pracharat Palang Party representatives, when will the government cancel the [information operations], which are being funded by taxpayers’ money and creating controversy? Secondly, in light of the Pegasus scandal, how can we be assured that the government won’t use this spy tool again to infringe on people’s privacy?”
“Lastly, the recent leak of 55 million individuals’ information is alarming, especially since we have the [Personal Data Protection Act] and a cyber security committee in place to protect personal information. However, we have yet to see effective performance from the Personal Data Protection Committee or the cyber security measures in place”, she added.
A follow-up event titled “Leader’s Commitments to Human Rights Agenda” will be held on April 20, 2023 at Lan Khon Mueang Town Square. In this forum, candidates for prime minister from each political party will be invited to listen to proposals from civil society and share their visions for human rights policy.