The armed conflict continued in the South as insurgents targeted civilians in violent attacks, while security forces enjoyed impunity for human rights violations. The Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand issued its final report, placing responsibility for the 2010 political violence on both sides; however, accountability remained slow in coming. The government continued to use the lese-majesty law and the Computer Crimes Act to restrict freedom of expression. Asylum-seekers and refugees faced possible refoulement to their home countries.
Civilians remained at risk of attacks that resulted in deaths and injuries in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and parts of Songkhla. Government teachers and schools viewed as symbols of the state were targeted for attack, resulting in school closures during the latter part of the year. Insurgency leaders accused security forces of extrajudicial executions in Yala province. Impunity continued for most violations committed by security forces in the South.
The 2005 Emergency Decree on Public Administration in State of Emergency remained in place throughout the year, with the government renewing its mandate every three months. The decree allows immunity from prosecution for officials who may have committed human rights violations – including torture.Top of page
In September, the Truth for Reconciliation Commission released its final report on the violence surrounding the April-May 2010 anti-government protests in Bangkok, which resulted in 92 deaths. The report placed responsibility on government security forces, including the army, and the so-called “black shirts”, a militant armed group embedded with the protesters and linked to the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the “red shirts”. The report found that government forces had used weapons of war and live ammunition on protesters. It made extensive recommendations, including calling on the government to address abuses committed by all parties, through a fair and impartial justice system, and to provide “reparation and restoration to those affected by violent incidents”.
In January, the government agreed to provide financial compensation to victims of the 2010 violence. In May, a National Reconciliation Bill that included an amnesty provision for those involved in the 2010 violence led to more protests. The Bill was put on hold in July. After a court found security forces responsible for the May 2010 killing of UDD protester Phan Khamkong, murder charges were lodged against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban in December. They were the first officials to be charged in connection with the 2010 political violence. The trials of 24 UDD protest leaders charged with terrorism also started in December.Top of page
Freedom of expression continued to be curtailed, primarily through the lese-majesty law (Article 112 of the Criminal Code) and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, which provide for heavy jail sentences for perceived insults to the monarchy. Efforts to challenge or amend the lese-majesty law in 2012 failed. In October, the Constitutional Court upheld Article 112 as constitutional and in November, Parliament dismissed a bill to amend the law.
Asylum-seekers continued to face the risk of arrest and prolonged detention as well as forced return (refoulement) to countries where they would be at risk of persecution. Following discussions with the Myanmar government, Thailand’s National Security Council indicated that the 146,900 Myanmar refugees living in Thailand could return to Myanmar within a year, despite continued instability in Myanmar’s ethnic areas and the lack of protections to facilitate a safe, dignified and voluntary return process.
Documented and undocumented migrant workers were threatened with deportation in mid-December for failure to complete a national verification process.Top of page
There were no reported executions. Courts continued to hand down death sentences throughout the year. In August, the state commuted the sentences of at least 58 death row prisoners to life imprisonment.Top of page