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On the road for human rights

The Human Rights caravan – a large, double decker bus – is travelling from Bangkok to three provinces, stopping along the way. Forums on a variety of human rights topics are planned for each stop along with ‘human rights clinics' where people can express their individual concerns about the full realization of their human rights. The basis for the discussions is the book, “Dignity and Justice for All of Us: Our Voices are Heard in Thailand ”, published in commemoration of the 60 th Anniversary of the UDHR.

Thai Prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva  and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms Son in the Human Rights Caravan before it left Bangkok - © UN PhotoA forum was held at the Central Women's Correctional Institution, Lad Yao Prison Complex. One hundred female prisoners attended and asked questions about the promotion and protection of their rights. There was a session also at a Youth Detention Centre, Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection.

In his speech at the start of the venture, Thailand 's Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Thailand has ratified almost all of the international human rights instruments and adopted a number of laws in order to incorporate their provisions into Thai domestic law.

“It was important, however to admit there was a gap between the laws and their implementation on the ground,” he said.

“The first step to effectively address a problem is to recognize its existence. Thailand ,” Prime Minister Vejjajiva said, “is ready to do it.”

Ms Gwi-Yeop Son, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative noted that Thailand was one of the first countries in Asia to endorse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 60 years ago.

“There has been progress,” she said, “ Thailand has taken many steps to translate the provisions of the Declaration into practice. For example, it has adopted laws on human trafficking and domestic violence against women.”

Young men from a youth detention centre take part in a forum in the Human Rights Caravan - © UN PhotoMs. Son also said that in the publication many voices raised questions about existing challenges to the enjoyment of rights for displaced populations, about human trafficking, migrant workers and the statelessness and recommendations were put forward for consideration.

In two years time the Human Rights Council is due to review Thailand 's human rights situation. This would be a good opportunity, Ms. Son said, to consider establishing an Inter-ministerial Working Group to carry out a systematic review of the status of all human rights treaties applicable in Thailand .

The Human Rights Caravan has been jointly organised by the United Nations Country Team in Thailand and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand in collaboration with the Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Social Development and Human Security.

April 2009