The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Thailand

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#cambodia #equality #freedom #human_rights #myanmar_(burma) #politics #thailand #tolerance

Thailand
Kingdom of Thailand

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index75th best
CapitalBangkok
Land Area 510 890km21
LocationAsia
Population69.4m2
Life Expectancy74.62yrs (2017)3
GNI$14 519 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesTH, THA, 7645
Internet Domain.th6
CurrencyBaht (THB)7
Telephone+668

Thailand is generally poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world. Thailand comes in the best 20 in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice9. It does better than average in terms of LGBT equality10 and in opposing gender inequality11. Thailand does not succeed in everything, however. It does worse than average in commentary in Human Rights Watch reports12 (still good for Asia), supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms13, speed of uptake of HR treaties14, supporting press freedom15 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights16. The rich and the poor live completely different lives; just 1% of the popuation draws 20% of the country's entire income17. Military Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha wields "absolute power without oversight or accountability" and he and his officials "cannot be held accountable for their rights violations"18. Civil rights are suffering and critics of the government are being suppressed and silenced and some protests have been violently dispersed. Thailand's fishing industry has become infamous for using modern slavery techniques to acquire and keep workers via human trafficking and debt bondage techniques19.


1. Thailand's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)20,21
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank20,21
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
96Vietnam90.2
97Singapore92.0
98Vatican City92.0
99Thailand92.0
100Tanzania92.3
101Nepal92.9
102Barbados93.6
103Uganda95.0
104Belize95.2
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway20. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine20.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe20, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia20.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

In spite of evidence showing that soldiers were responsible for most casualties during the 2010 political confrontations with the UDD, or “Red Shirts,” that left at least 90 dead and more than 2,000 injured, no military personnel or officials from the government of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva have been charged for killing and wounding civilians at the time. On the other hand, numerous UDD leaders and supporters faced serious criminal charges.

The killings of more than 30 human rights defenders and other civil society activists since 2001 remained unresolved.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)12
Pos.Higher is better
Score12
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
71Nigeria-4
72Vietnam-4
73Morocco-4
74Thailand-4
75Angola-4
76Kyrgyzstan-4
77Kuwait-4
78Azerbaijan-5
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)16
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties16
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
145Kuwait12
146Trinidad & Tobago12
147Lebanon12
148Thailand11
149Barbados11
150Bahamas11
151Cuba11
152Guyana11
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)14
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty14
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
129Malawi11.77
130Maldives11.85
131Central African Rep.11.87
132Thailand11.89
133Congo, (Brazzaville)11.91
134Moldova11.99
135Kyrgyzstan12.04
136Botswana12.05
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)13
Pos.Lower is better
Rank13
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
104Mozambique103
105Argentina103
106Malawi106
107Thailand107
108Lebanon108
109Laos109
110Ivory Coast110
111Ukraine111
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)22

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)15
Pos.Lower is better15
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
131Burundi3802
132Zimbabwe3812
133Jordan3847
134Thailand3860
135Morocco3904
136Ethiopia3957
137Tunisia3993
138Indonesia4105
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Media outlets face intimidation, punishment, and closure if they publicize commentaries critical of the junta and the monarchy, or raise issues the NCPO considers to be sensitive to national security–including the repression of basic rights.

Media outlets that refused to fully comply, including Voice TV, Spring News Radio, Peace TV, and TV24, were temporarily forced off the air in March, April, August, and November respectively. These stations were later allowed to resume broadcasting when they agreed to practice self-censorship, either by excluding outspoken commentators or avoiding political issues altogether.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)23
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims23
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
142Congo, (Brazzaville)0.80
143Macedonia0.87
144Swaziland0.88
145Thailand0.89
146Laos0.94
147Papua New Guinea1.03
148Belarus1.09
149Brunei1.09
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory24. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends25. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life26. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves27.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery28. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity29. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.30. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi23, Eritrea23, Indonesia31) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery32.

Migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam face extortion, exploitation, severe labor rights abuses and violence18. Human traffickers sometimes collaborate with corrupt officials18. Thailand's fishing industry has become infamous for using modern slavery techniques to acquire and keep workers via human trafficking and debt bondage techniques (for example, the process for becoming an employee can be so expensive that workers are then denied any freedom to leave their employer until the debt is paid)19.

Between 2011 and 2016... 76 percent of migrant workers in the Thai fishing industry have been held in debt bondage and almost 38 percent had been trafficked into the Thai fishing industry in that time-frame. [...] Forced labour and debt bondage within fisheries are ongoing and widespread.

The Inssara Institute and the International Justice Mission (2017)
Reported in "Global Slavery Index" by Walk Free Foundation (2018)19

Migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are vulnerable to physical abuses, indefinite detention, and extortion by Thai authorities; severe labor rights abuses and exploitation by employers; and violence and human trafficking by criminals who sometimes collaborate with corrupt officials. [...]

The government declared that combating human trafficking was a national priority, including by enforcing the Human Trafficking Criminal Procedure Act. In July, the Bangkok Criminal Court sentenced 62 people -including former army advisor Lt. Gen. Manas Kongpan - to prison terms of up to 94 years for trafficking and mistreatment of Rohingya migrants. However, improvements in suppressing human trafficking in the fishing sector were still limited.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Thailand has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)11
Pos.Lower is better11
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
76Georgia0.36
77Argentina0.36
78Bahamas0.36
79Thailand0.37
80Myanmar (Burma)0.37
81Belize0.38
82Mauritius0.38
83Lebanon0.38
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
36Spain1931
37Maldives1932
38Uruguay1932
39Thailand1932
40Turkey1934
41Brazil1934
42Cuba1934
43Myanmar (Burma)1935
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)9
Pos.Lower is better
%9
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
7Denmark9
8USA9
9Tanzania12
10Thailand13
11Czechia13
12Canada14
13New Zealand14
14Australia14
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews33,34,35,36. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East37, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews38,39. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"40. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males41.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
Score10
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
54Nicaragua35
55El Salvador35
56Kosovo35
57Thailand34
58Bulgaria33
59Fiji32
60S. Korea30
61Timor-Leste (E. Timor)30
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence42. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws43. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries42. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.