Thailand: ICJ and HRLA express concern about inadequate protections for human rights defenders in draft National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
Today, ICJ and Human Rights Lawyers’ Association (HRLA) submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Justice on Thailand’s draft National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (‘draft NAP’), dated 14 February 2019, scheduled for public consultation between 15 February 2019 and 15 March 2019.
The organizations called for modifications to the draft NAP to ensure adequate legal and other protections for human rights defenders and their work, which was indicated as the identified as one of the NAP’s key priority areas.
The ICJ and HRLA welcomed the overall commitment expressed by the Thai Government, including the Ministry of Justice’s, to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) through the NAP.
The organizations expressed concern, however, at the removal of a commitment that had been included in earlier versions of the NAP to “push for an Anti- Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP) law” from the current draft NAP.
This removal was justified in the draft NAP on the grounds that the Court of Justice had already introduced legal amendments to prevent SLAPP lawsuits, in particular by enacting revisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (Articles 161/1 and 165/2). The draft NAP also refers to certain powers of a public prosecutor as another means of preventing SLAPP lawsuits.
ICJ and HRLA indicated that these laws were inadequate to prevent judicial harassment of human rights defenders and called for the draft NAP to include concrete action with the force of law to protect individuals, and in particular human rights defenders, from judicial harassment, including through SLAPP lawsuits.
Thailand is among the first countries in the ASEAN region to have begun the elaboration of a NAP. The UN Human Rights Council has stressed the importance of the development of National Action Plans by States to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which include the obligation to provide protections for persons from any adverse human rights impact of business activity.
On 15 February 2019, the Ministry of Justice circulated a final draft of the NAP for public consultation.
Upon finalization of the draft following the consultation, the draft will be forwarded to the Office of the National Economics and Social Development Council for their consideration before being sent to the Cabinet for approval.
The draft NAP sets out 4 key priority areas including (1) labour; (2) land, environment and natural resources; (3) human rights defenders; and (4) cross border investment and multi-national enterprises.
The draft NAP has set out several action points aimed to address concerns regarding the above-noted key priority areas for the period of 5 years (2019-2023).
Thailand-SLAPP Analysis-Advocacy-Analysis brief-2019-ENG (analysis in English, PDF)
Thailand-SLAPP Analysis-Advocacy-Analysis brief-2019-THA (analysis in Thai, PDF)AdvocacyAnalysis briefs