ARTICLE 19, Manushya Foundation, Access Now, 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 in October or 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.
The submission documents 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.
The joint submission focuses on:
- The right to freedom of expression online
- The lack of data protection in legal and institutional framework
- State surveillance and infringement of online privacy
- The rise of digital dictatorship over tech companies
- Harassment, intimidation and attacks against HRDs, civil society activists (CSA) and journalists for their online activities
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.
Additionally ARTICLE 19 made a further UPR submission focusing exclusively on the key threats to freedom of expression in Thailand.