KHON KAEN – Last Friday Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) launched its first regional office in the Northeast. The opening comes amid a deteriorating human rights situation under prolonged military rule in the country, according to a report published by Amnesty International on Wednesday.

The Center for Human Rights Study and Coordination, a joint project between the NHRC and Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Law, opened its doors last week with the intention to increase people’s access to the human rights institution and expedite the investigation of rights violations in the region.

Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the NHRC, said at the inauguration event that the new center will work to educate Northeasterners about their rights and accept complaints about violations for investigation.

Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) launched its first regional office in the Northeast at Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Law.

It is the second regional branch of the NHRC after it created a similar center in Pattani Province in 2014. The opening of a third regional center in Chiang Mai is planned for later this year.

Sawat Oophad, a community activist from Sakon Nakhon Province who attended the inauguration event, welcomed the establishment of the center saying that it is likely to increase the efficiency of the NHRC’s complaint procedure.

“But it is still unclear how it can work as the main coordination center for local networks to address [human rights] issues,” he told The Isaan Record.

The opening of the center coincided with the publication of Amnesty International’s annual human rights report on Thailand two days earlier. The authors noted that Thailand continued to suffer from wide-ranging restrictions on human rights under the military government in 2016, including curbing freedom of expression and the right to peaceful political dissent.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the report, saying that it did not fully reflect positive developments in the country, adding that freedom of expression and human rights are valued and supported in Thailand.  

At the opening ceremony on Friday, students from the Faculty of Law handed out pamphlets with the title “What is happening with the case of Pai Jatupat,” to raise awareness about the legal case against student activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa.

Mr. Jatupat, also known as “Pai Dao Din,” is a student at the Faculty of Law facing charges under the lèse-majesté law and the Computer Crime Act for sharing an online biography of Thailand’s new king.

Contact: Center for Human Rights Study and Coordination, Northeasteastern Region. Ms. Kanuengnit Promanus. Phone: 844-203-406