National Human Rights Commission (Thailand)

National Human Rights Commission (Thailand)

The Thai National Human Rights Commission (Thai: คณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ; RTGS: Khana Kammakan Sitthi Manutsayachon Haeng Chat; Abrv: NHRC) was established on July 13, 2001 as a national human rights institution. From its inception to May 31, 2005, it received a total of 2,148 complaints of which 1,309 had already been investigated, 559 were still in the process of investigation, and 209 were in the process of gathering evidence. These complaints covered not only civil and political rights but also other spheres of rights including economic, social and cultural rights.[1]

The inception of the Commission came after a clash (known as “Black May”) between pro-democracy demonstrators and the military in May 1992 which resulted in severe casualties.[2] A resolution was passed in September the same year by the Cabinet to establish a national mechanism committed to the protection of human rights. The national human rights commission was eventually mandated in Article 199 and 200 of the new Constitution adopted by the government in October 1997” [3] and formally constituted in July 2001.[4]

As a result of its proactive stance, it is widely accepted by the public in relation to corporate-related human rights abuses, the NHRC has apparently been receiving an increasing number of cases in recent years.[5] Many cases are still being resolved but the NHRC remains committed to affording victims of corporate related human rights abuses and access to remedies.[6] The NHRC’s mechanism is easy to understand and is similar to court based adjudication. The difficulty lies in the lack of enforcement powers and hence the lack of ability to order remedies if one party defaults and the National Assembly fails to look into the problem. Hence, there is the possibility that the victim may not have access to any remedies and thus greater enforcement powers are needed.

On 19 September 2006, the NHRC began to expreience severe difficulties after the Thai military seized power in a coup. The Commission remains in existence but members have not been appointed to replace those whose terms have come to an end. Saneh Chamarik, chairman of the Commission, defended the coup, stating in an interview:

I do not think [the coup] is about progression or regression [of democracy], but about problem solving.

His remark was criticized by Suwit Lertkraimethi, an organizer of the 19 September Network against Coup d'Etat, who noted, "His role is to protect human rights, but his statement showed his approval of human-rights violations." Suwit demanded Saneh's resignation from the NHRC.[7]

It is accredited with "A status" by the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), and is a member of the regional NHRI network, the Asia Pacific Forum.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hurights Osaka; See also Thailand: 10 years later -- still no justice for the May 1992 victims, 16 May 2002, and “The First National Human Rights Commission of Thailand: Some Reflections of the Six-year Experience”, Report of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand , submitted at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, Sydney, Australia 24–27 September 2007,
  3. ^ ibid.
  4. ^ Research compiled by the Joanna Chew and Ho JunYi at the Center on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
  5. ^ Telephone interview with Professor Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson of the Thai National Human Rights Commission.
  6. ^ ibid.
  7. ^ The Nation, Activists to hold anti-coup gathering, 22 September 2006

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