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Press briefing notes on Thailand and Bahrain

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 6 August 2013

1) Thailand

We are concerned that the amnesty bill being discussed this week in Parliament, if adopted, could pardon people involved in serious human rights abuses during the political violence in April and May 2010.

At the time of these incidents, over 90 people died and thousands were injured. On 6 July 2010, the Government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) that issued a final report containing serious and substantive findings backed by forensic evidence and recommended urgent action to ensure accountability for human rights abuses.

We reiterate the previous call by the High Commissioner for the Government to act on the TRCT’s recommendations and ensure that state officials and others are held to account for their role in serious human rights abuses. This would set an important precedent for Thailand.

We call upon the Government to ensure that any amnesty excludes those who are responsible for human rights violations and to take steps to prosecute perpetrators of such violations.

2) Bahrain

We are concerned about the recommendations made by the National Assembly’s extraordinary session which was recently held to discuss toughening punishments under the 2006 Law on the Protection of Society from Acts of Terrorism. These recommendations include increasing detention period or revoking citizenship of anyone found guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism. They also provide for banning sit-ins, rallies and gatherings in the capital Manama. On 31 July, a royal decree was issued to amend the above-mentioned law in accordance with these recommendations.

While recognizing the responsibility of States to maintain law and order, we remind the authorities that any measure should respect international human rights standards.

We reiterate that the right to nationality is a fundamental right protected by article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her nationality. Any deprivation of nationality provided for by law must comply with procedural and substantive standards, including the principle of proportionality. We are concerned that arbitrary deprivation of nationality may also lead to statelessness with serious consequences for the protection of the human rights of the individuals concerned.

Although we welcome the recommendation by the Parliament that "basic liberties, particularly freedom of opinion, should not be affected to maintain a balance between law enforcement and human rights protection," we reiterate our concern about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings.
We call upon the Government of Bahrain to fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and association – and urge all demonstrators to exercise these rights in a peaceful manner.

In response to a question on Bahrain:

In April 2013, the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, to Bahrain - which was scheduled to take place from 8 to 15 May – was postponed for the second time. He has not been able to visit Bahrain since. Discussions are underway to set up new dates for a future visit.
To read the statement issued by the Special Rapporteur on 24 April 2013, please go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13261&LangID=E

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 or +41 79 618 3430 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+ 41 22 917 9434 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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