Thailand: need to protect the right to health of the most marginalized highlighted in public seminar on human rights and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The ICJ, human rights advocates and other experts emphasized the State obligation to protect that right to health of all persons without discrimination at a public seminar held on 10 November 2020.

The ICJ sponsored the event on “Human Rights, Right to Health, and the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic” in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand, Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law, and the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Rights and Liberties Protection Department.

Participants in the event included interested members of the public, students, human rights academics, and members of civil society organizations.

Welcome remarks were delivered by Giuseppe Busini, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Thailand and Professor Jaturon Tirawat, Director of Thammasat University’s Public International Law Centre.

Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in an opening address recalled the obligations of Thailand under International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to protect the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes ensuring the right of access to health facilities, goods and services on a non-discriminatory basis. Among these elements are access to housing and sanitation, potable water and essential drugs. He also highlighted the need to implement a national public health strategy and plan of action to make COVID-19 vaccine a global common good.

ICJ Legal Adviser Timothy Fish Hodgson provided a briefing about human rights effects wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, as exposed in the ICJ report – Living Like People Who Die Slowly: The Need for Right to Health Compliant COVID-19 Responses. He emphasized the particularly acute and discriminatory impact of the pandemic on already marginalized people around the world, particularly on non-citizens, older persons, women and girls, LGBT persons, persons deprived of their liberty, persons with disabilities, sex workers and healthcare workers.

A panel discussion regarding the economic social and cultural rights during and post COVID-19 pandemic, moderated by Chonlathan Supphaiboonlerd, Associate National Legal Advisor of the ICJ, addressed the measures taken by the Thai government to control the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate social and economic impacts of the pandemic, especially their human rights effects on persons with disabilities, refugees, asylum seekers, persons deprived of their liberty, indigenous peoples and migrant workers in Thailand.

The panel included Nareeluc Paichaiyapoom, Director of International Human Rights Law Division, Department of Rights and Liberties Protection, Ministry of Justice; Dr. Lalin Kovudhikulrungsri, Faculty of Law, Thammasart University; Naiyana Thanawattho, Executive Director, Asylum Access Thailand; Dr. Siwanoot Soitong, Bangkok Legal Clinic, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University; Nattaya Petcharat, Stella Maris Seafarer’ Center Songkhla; and Suebsakun Kidnukorn, Researcher, Area Based-Social Innovation Research Center (Ab-SIRC), Mae Fah Luang University.

Watch the recording of the seminar here.

Further reading

Thailand: The ICJ and other human rights groups make supplementary submission to the UN Human Rights Committee

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