Letter From Bangkok: Thai leader’s promise on rights unfulfilled

Letter From Bangkok: Thai leader's promise on rights unfulfilled - International Herald Tribune, April 22, 2005
...Five years ago, Thailand looked set to lead Southeast Asia on human rights. Its armed forces had retreated from politics, its press ranked among the region's freest, a new constitution produced by a process of democratic debate had created semi-independent bodies to provide checks and balances to executive power, including a National Human Rights Commission.
Instead, however, "Thailand has gone from being a beacon of freedom and respect for human rights in the region to being a country of high concern," said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "Much of the steady progress Thailand had made in the last decade has been rolled back under Thaksin's tenure."
A war on drug trafficking that Thaksin started in 2003 illustrates the point. It led to 2,200 killings, many bearing the hallmarks of extra-judicial execution-style slayings. Tactics Thaksin adopted to curb the insurgency in the south proved to be similarly ferocious.
At least 78 Muslims arrested after a riot in October died in military custody. Most of them reportedly suffocated in military trucks, where they had been stacked in piles. No one has been prosecuted or punished.
...Yet little else has changed. Somchai's disappearance continues to be hidden behind a wall of official obscurity. Moreover, although Angkana is a co-plaintiff in the case against the five officers, she has not been allowed to see the police investigation that is the basis of the prosecution case against them. Applications by Thai Law Society to see the police report have been blocked on grounds of national security...
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