CSO SUSTAINABILITY INDEX REPORT
Manushya Foundation in collaboration with USAID, FHI360 and ICNL wrote Thailand's 2018 CSO Sustainability Index Report, reviewing the strength and overall viability of civil society actors in the country. With the participation of community leaders, CSO experts, and development partners, the report found that CSOs' sustainability in Thailand has Deteriorated from 2017 to 2018, in all the following 7 dimensions: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, sectoral infrastructure and public image. The decrease of Thailand's CSO Sustainability Index is the result of civic space shrinking, with the adoption and enforcement of restrictive laws and practices by the military junta (the National Council for Peace and Order, NCPO).
For instance, an increasing number of human rights activists, journalists, and other members of civil society were harassed, charged, and imprisoned under various legal provisions in 2018. Media organizations were also subjected to state harassment, including temporary closures due to non-compliance with laws and regulations that prohibit the spread of information critical of the military government and the monarchy. While activists continue to speak out, advocacy decreased as the NCPO increasingly operated without transparency, making high-level decisions without public consultations. Even when public hearings were organized to gather public input on draft legislation or policies, CSOs reported that their comments and recommendations were not incorporated into the final versions. As more human rights defenders were charged under restrictive laws in 2018, journalists increasingly self-censored and the media provided less coverage of CSOs out of fear that the government would also consider them opponents, leading to a worsening of the CSO sector’s public image. In addition, the government discredited human rights activists in the media during the year, with for example Thailand’s Army Chief stating in October 2018 that people who criticize the monarchy may be thrown into mental asylums instead of prison.
Finally, among 9 Asian countries being assessed under the CSOSI project, Thailand scored the worst on the 2018 CSO sustainability index for the Asia region. Please see the Asia Regional Report assessing CSO sustainability in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
About the project: The CSOSI Sustainability Index project is funded by USAID, and implemented by FHI360 in partnership with ICNL and it assesses the sustainability of CSO sectors in countries around the world. Manushya Foundation is the implementating partner for the 2018 CSOSI report of Thailand. The report is largely based on input provided by civil society experts, including experts from INGOs, CSOs, CBOs, grassroots, and human rights defenders.