Thailand: UN Working Group on business and human rights undertakes first official visit

Starting on 26 March and up to 04 April 2018, members of the UN Working Group on business and human rights are in Thailand for its first official visit to "examine efforts to prevent, mitigate and remedy adverse human rights impacts of business operations." The Working Group was invited by the Thai government.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is compiling reports, statements, and official releases about the visit and will regularly update this story.

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Article
22 April 2018

Thailand: Court dismisses charges against mining activists; UN Business & Human Rights Working Group calls for end of attacks against defenders

Author: Bangkok Post

"Charges against Loei activists dismissed, mining protest to go on", 20 April 2018

A Loei court has dismissed all charges against seven female activists accused of violating public assembly laws, just weeks after a United Nations team called on the government to end attacks on human rights campaigners.

The Loei Provincial Court dropped all charges against them, stating they had "innocently expressed their opinions, which is within their basic rights under the system of democracy."

Pornthip Hongchai, one of the acquitted defendants, said..."...Villagers know that the water is contaminated and we have to be careful and look after ourselves. We still have to buy water to drink and cook with. We've been buying water since 2009 when there was a public health announcement."

...[T]he UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights said it was concerned about "unreasonable and unwarranted restrictions" on affected communities.

...[T]he working group called on authorities to "end recurring attacks, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and community representatives."

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Article
4 April 2018

Thailand: UNWG on business and human rights urges govt to end attacks against HRDs and to do more to protect civic space

Author: Scoop

"UN experts urge Thailand to show leadership," 05 April 2018

A team of UN experts today presented their preliminary observations on steps that should be taken by the Royal Thai Government and businesses to improve corporate respect for human rights and to strengthen access to effective remedies.

“We welcome the clear ambition of the Government to become a regional leader on business and human rights and encourage it to take decisive steps towards this objective,” said Dante Pesce, vice-chairperson of the Working Group on business and human rights...

The experts noted how reports on trafficking and forced labour in the fishing industry had been a wake-up call for the Government, which had resulted in a concerted effort to stamp out abusive business practices. They called on the Government to take similar action in other sectors such as agriculture, energy, manufacturing and construction.

“One critical challenge for Thailand will be to end recurring attacks, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, union leaders and community representatives who speak out against business-related human rights abuse,” the experts said.

“More must be done to protect civic space, including protecting human rights defenders against civil and criminal defamation law suits filed by companies to silence those who stand up for the victims of abuse,”...

The experts welcomed the openness of the Government to discuss remaining challenges and to see how these could be tackled and addressed in a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights...

“We have urged the Government to develop this plan through an inclusive and transparent process that includes all interested parties, including – and in particular – the critical voices, and we are hopeful that the Government will be able to deliver on its commitments...” 

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The UN Working Group's full statement can be accessed through these links:

English

Thai

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Article
3 April 2018

Thailand: Fortify Rights calls on govt to protect human rights defenders against attacks and harassment

Author: Fortify Rights

"Thailand: Protect Human Rights Defenders Working on Business and Human Rights", 04 April 2018

The Government of Thailand should protect human rights defenders working in the context of business operations and ensure their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Fortify Rights said...in a 16-page submission to the United Nations’ experts...

The submission by Fortify Rights documents attacks and incidents of harassment perpetrated against human rights defenders working on corporate accountability from 2014 to the present day.

The Thai authorities have failed to protect human rights defenders by allowing violations and abuses to take place with impunity...
 
Fortify Rights also documented how private companies and Thai authorities have used criminal defamation laws, the 2007 Computer-related Crime Act, and the 2015 Public Assembly Act to intimidate and harass human rights defenders. A litany of criminal proceedings have been brought against KRBKG members in relation to their protest against a gold mine, Thai PBS and its journalists for reporting on environmental impacts allegedly linked to the same gold mine, and Andy Hall, a British labor-rights advocate and 14 Myanmar migrant workers for reporting on alleged labor-rights abuses in a Thai poultry-rearing company.

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Article
30 March 2018

Thailand: Fisherman who lost forearm appeals for higher pay; UN business & human rights working group expected to urge Thailand to adopt a national action plan

Author: Thomson Reuters Foundation, Bangkok Post

"Fishermen long for justice as Thailand comes under UN scrutiny", 29 March 2018

Sold to a boat operator for 6,000 baht two years ago, Win from Myanmar worked as a fisherman until he lost his forearm in an accident on the vessel....

Toiling for 19 hours a day, Win said the crew of 30 sometimes would not get any rest during peak season....

...Thailand's fishing industry...is under further international scrutiny...as a team of United Nations experts undertake their first visit to examine human rights....

...Win said he lost his left arm after it was caught in a wheel as he hoisted the net one day.

Unhappy with the offer of 10,000 baht compensation from his employer, Win is now appealing to the Thai authorities for a higher amount.

"Any slight mistakes we made, we would be scolded or beaten up. I was hit twice - one time with a machete to my head," said Win....

...the ILO also found signs of continuing forced labour...especially among migrants from Cambodia and Myanmar.

More than a third of migrant fishermen in Thailand were victims of trafficking...

....the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights said the group...to urge Thai authorities to adopt a national action plan on dealing with modern slavery and human trafficking in industries....

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Article
27 March 2018

Thailand: ETO-Watch urges govt to protect communities adversely affected by Thai outbound investments

Author: Pratch Rujivanarom, Nation

"Rights concerns for overseas Thai investors," 28 March 2018

The government has been urged to create a legal mechanism to assure human-rights protections associated with Thailand’s outbound investment on the occasion of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights official visit to the country.

The Thai Extraterritorial Obligation-Watch Working Group (Thai ETO-Watch) released a statement...demanding legal measures to prevent and mitigate human-rights violations by Thai investors overseas, after the group met with the UN delegation.

The UN group is paying is first official visit to Thailand in response to a government invitation.

The group stated at least eight large investment projects involving Thai investors had been found to have caused adverse impacts to local citizens and violated people’s rights, including at sugarcane plantations in Cambodia, a coal-fired power plant in Laos and a tin mine in Myanmar.

Thai ETO-Watch demanded the government establish an official channel to receive complaints about overseas Thai investments, legislate to force investors to respect UNGPs and be responsible for rights violations, and set up a legal mechanism to ensure corporate socl responsibility and prevent lawsuits.

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Thai ETO-Watch statement can be read here. 

 

 

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Article
27 March 2018

Thailand: UN Working Group on business and human rights visits Thailand to examine efforts to address human rights impacts of businesses

Author: UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

"Thailand: First official visit by UN expert group on business and human rights," 22 March 2018

The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights will undertake its first official visit to Thailand from 26 March to 4 April to examine efforts to prevent, mitigate and remedy adverse human rights impacts of business operations.

“Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia and an important player in sectors such as mining, agriculture, tourism, fisheries, palm oil, telecommunication, electronics, finance and energy,” said Dante Pesce, vice-chairperson of the Working Group.

“We look forward to learn more about ongoing work to develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, as part of efforts to ensure that companies operating in Thailand, as well as Thai companies operating abroad, respect human rights.”

“During our mission to Thailand we will meet with a wide range of stakeholders, including national and provincial government authorities, private and State-owned enterprises, business associations, civil society organisations, the National Human Rights Commission, trade unions, human rights defenders and members of local and indigenous communities,” said Surya Deva, the other member of the Working Group’s visiting delegation.

“We will give particular attention to the situations of individuals and groups that are particularly at risk to business-related human rights abuse,” he added.

Findings from the country visit and recommendations will be included in an official report to be presented to the Human Rights Council.

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Article
27 March 2018

Thailand: Govt shows commitment to improve human rights work and views UN Working Group visit as a collaborative learning experience

Author: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand

"The Official Visit by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights (WG on BHR)," 25 March 2018

Upon the Royal Thai Government’s invitation, the United Nations Working Group on the issues of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will pay an official visit to Thailand between 26 March – 4 April 2018, during which the Working Group will meet with relevant government agencies, the private sector and civil society organisations...

 
The invitation reflects the commitment and readiness of all stakeholders in Thailand to continue to improve the human rights work, including in the field of business and human rights. The Working Group’s visit is thus viewed as part of a collaborative learning process, where Thailand would be able to learn from the Working Group. At the same time, Thailand could be a model for other countries to promote the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP). Thailand is among the first countries in the region having started the drafting process of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP). Most recently, the Government has announced human rights as a national agenda, under which the concept of business and human rights was specifically mentioned...