Cabinet will include human rights in Thailand 4.0

Responding to feedback from activists and citizens groups, the cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha approved a plan last week to include a human rights platform and agenda into Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to evolve the Kingdom’s economy and society to higher levels of technology, creativity and innovation.

The Ministry of Justice developed and submitted the proposal following input from various groups that said that the government should integrate human rights into the national development plan. The cabinet approved the plan without hesitation. The inclusion of human rights fits neatly into the national strategy’s focus on human capital development and the protecting the environment.

The plan is comprised of 10 points and affected ministries have been instructed to develop action plans with measurable benchmarks so that they can document progress and take corrective actions.

The first four points are designed to create an enabling environment for rights: boosting consciousness of the need to respect rights; building a system to track violations; building up a culture of rights; and creating a network to oversee the situation.The next three points are targeted at improving rights: improve the database for rights-violation cases, revise laws to meet changes, and improve the attitude of government officials in understanding human rights.

The last three involve reducing the number of violations, holding up good local groups or organization as role models on rights, and measures to turn theoretical proposals into practical realities.

While Thailand has come under some criticism on human rights from some quarters in recent years because of the military’s intervention in politics and issues such as human trafficking and labor conditions, the government of Prime Minister Prayut has also responded to complaints about Thailand’s rights record in several areas, including those involving treatment of migrants, prisoners, stateless people and community rights.

The government has made strong efforts, for instance, in the area of labor rights. It has ratified several International Labor Organization conventions and taken increasingly effective actions against those who violate workers’ rights in industries such as the fishing and seafood industries. The government has also been praised by United Nations agencies for making notable progress in extending citizenship to stateless people.

The Kingdom has long been a party to important global agreements on human rights such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or DegradingTreatment or Punishment, among others.