Declining Digital Rights in Thailand must be addressed in 3rd UPR!
Manushya Foundation jointly with with Access Now, Article 19, and the ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship collaborated on a joint submission ahead of Thailand’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle. The submission examines the compliance of Thailand with the recommendations it received during its 2nd 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.
The UPR is a unique mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, through which each UN Member State makes commitments to improve its human rights record, following an assessment of progress made against previous commitments. Thailand will be reviewed at the 39th Session of the Working Group of the UPR on 10 November 2021.
This is the third time Thailand has undergone review under the UPR, and the joint submission details the Thai government’s failure to fulfil previous UPR recommendations on digital rights.
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.