DIGITAL RIGHTS IN THAILAND:

JOINT SUBMISSION

TO THE UN UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR)

FOR THAILAND'S THIRD UPR CYCLE

39TH SESSION OF THE UPR WORKING GROUP

 25 MARCH 2021

The 39th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will conduct the 3rd UPR of Thailand. All interested individuals and organizations, including civil society organizations, activists, and academics with work related to Thailand were invited to provide their input ahead of the 3rd UPR cycle that will take place on 10th November 2021.

In this context, Manushya Foundation jointly with Access Now, Article 19, and the ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship made a joint submission to examine the compliance of Thailand with the recommendations it received during its 2nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle, particularly in relation to digital rights including freedom of expression online, privacy rights and data protection, and the protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) for their online activities.

This submission brings to light Thailand’s growing digital dictatorship, authoritarian policies and abuse of laws aimed at eliminating citizens’ basic human rights, including but not limited to, freedom of expression online. Online users face charges and criminal penalties under the Criminal Code and laws broadly criminalizing “cybercrimes” and threats to “national security”, including the 2017 amended Computer Crimes Act (CCA), the State of Emergency to Combat COVID-19 and the 2005 Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation. 

This submission clearly indicates that the recent political and legal developments violate Thailand’s international human rights obligations in the following manner:

  • Violation to freedom of expression online, independence of the media, and access to information.

  • Lack of data protection, with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) not specifically addressing the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation in legal and institutional frameworks. 

  • State surveillance and infringement of the right to privacy.

  • Digital dictatorship over tech companies, including the challenges they face in fulfilling their responsibilities to respect human rights in the digital age.

  • Lack of protection and overcriminalization of HRDs, civil society activists and journalists who exercise their fundamental rights and activities online.

The submission also provides a set of recommendations to advance the human rights situation on the ground, and the implementation of UPR recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle.

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Founded in 2017, Manushya Foundation serves as a bridge to engage, mobilise, and empower agents of change by: connecting humans through inclusive coalition building and; by developing strategies focused at placing local communities’ voices in the centre of human rights advocacy and domestic implementation of international human rights obligations and standards.

 

Manushya Foundation strengthens the solidarity and capacity of communities and grassroots to ensure they can constructively raise their own concerns and provide solutions in order to improve their livelihoods and the human rights situation on the ground.

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