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Elected officials urged to make human rights a priority, address increasing media repression

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - Bangkok, July 1, 2011 - Thailand's political parties and newly elected members of parliament should make human rights a priority following general elections scheduled for July 3, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today.

During the election campaign, parties and candidates paid little attention to the country's deepening human rights crisis, particularly the lack of accountability for the violent confrontations in April and May 2010 that left at least 90 people dead. Other major concerns are the increasing repression of the media, and killings in the south and in the "war on drugs."

"The violence and abuses since 2010 demand that Thai political parties put forward a strong human rights agenda," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "But while speaking broadly about the need for reconciliation, they have failed miserably to present any concrete plans on how to reverse the continuing repression of basic rights."

Human Rights Watch called on all elected officials, whether in the majority or minority, to tackle the serious human rights problems facing the country. The government, the army, and the various political movements continue to trade accusations about responsibility for the loss of life and destruction of property during the 2010 upheavals, but the government needs to step forward to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

There has been no accountability for serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said. Human rights defenders have been murdered and "disappeared" without a single successful prosecution of those responsible. Thousands of extrajudicial killings and other serious abuses connected to the government's anti-drugs and counterinsurgency operations remain unresolved.

Government interference with the media has resulted in enforced and self-imposed censorship. People holding dissident opinions, including those on the internet, have been subjected to harsh punishment.

"Holding elections will not make Thailand's human rights problems go away," Adams said. "For the country to move forward, Thai political parties will need to present concrete measures to end abuses, stop censorship, and eliminate impunity."

Click here for details about abuses and impunity
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