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NZ critical of Thai human rights record

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/05/2016

New Zealand has joined other Western countries in criticising Thailand's military government for curbing civil liberties, as the Asian monarchy faced scrutiny under the United Nations' human rights review process in Geneva.

"We have strong concerns that the protection and promotion of human rights, particularly civil and political rights, have deteriorated in Thailand since the May 2014 military coup," New Zealand's UN envoy Carl Reaich said.

His comments were echoed by a number of other Western countries.

German envoy Frank Jarasch said his country was "deeply concerned" about restrictions on free speech and the freedom of assembly.

The Thai government has drafted a new constitution, but the UN rights office in Geneva has warned that the charter would give the military and its courts too much power.

Western countries urged the Thai junta to abolish the strict law that criminalises insults to the royal family, and to scrap the death penalty.

UN member countries undergo a regular review process every few years at the UN Human Rights Council.

Charnchao Chaiyanukij, a senior official in the Thai justice ministry, said that "limitations have been in place only to a level necessary to maintain public order and prevent further polarisation in the society".

His comments in Geneva came one day after Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha defended the arrest of a woman who had made comments that allegedly insulted the monarch in a private Facebook chat.

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