Amnesty Warns Thailand’s NGO Bill Could Be Used to Suppress Civil Society

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FILED - The logo of the human rights organization Amnesty International is pictured in Berlin. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa
FILED - The logo of the human rights organization Amnesty International is pictured in Berlin. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa

Thailand’s draft law on the regulation of NGOs could be used to suppress the civil society in the country through excessive restrictions and vague wording, Amnesty International said on Monday.

“In its current form the excessively restrictive law could easily be misused to obstruct the work of or even shut down a wide range of grassroots, national and international civil society groups in Thailand, threatening its status as a regional hub for local and international NGOs,” Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director, said in a statement.

The bill proposes to forbid NGOs from impacting “public order,” “good morals” or “happy normal existence of other persons,” among others, according to Amnesty International. The vagueness and broadness of the terms allow the government to abuse the law in order to quell civil protest in the country, Rife noted.

Amnesty International has urged the Thai government to withdraw the bill and reaffirm commitment to its constitutional and international human rights obligations.

Thailand has been engulfed in anti-government protests since December 2019. Pro-democracy protesters demand the cabinet’s resignation, as well as a constitution and monarchy reform.

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