IN HARM’S WAY: Women Human Rights Defenders in Thailand
‘In Harm’s Way: Women Human Rights Defenders in Thailand’, a new report jointly released today by the Observatory, Protection International (PI), and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), documents the pattern of repression of WHRDs in Thailand, especially rural women.
The report is released ahead of Thailand’s review by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on July 5, 2017. The Committee oversees State parties’ compliance with their legal obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The Thai government’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) fail to mention the situation of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Thailand, especially the negative developments that have occurred since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) overthrew a democratically elected government and seized power in a coup d’état on 22 May 2014.
This joint shadow report details our organisations’ concerns over Thailand’s non-compliance with the following articles and General Recommendations of the CEDAW in the context of the protection of WHRDs: Article 3 on the guarantee of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms; Article 4 on special measures; Article 14 on rural women; General Recommendation No. 23 on women in political and public life; General Recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice; and General Recommendation No. 34 on the rights of rural women.
WHRDs in Thailand make a vital contribution to the advancement of human rights and are in urgent need of recognition and protection. Since the May 2014 coup, they have increasingly become at risk of violence, discrimination, and other violations of their human rights. Women have been systematically excluded from public consultations and decision-making processes, particularly on issues related to
land and natural resources.
WHRDs and rural women continue to be among the most marginalized members of society in terms of their exclusion from participation in political and economic processes. They face numerous abuses and persistent barriers to the full enjoyment of their human rights. This is often the result of discrimination, poverty, and a lack of access to essential services or adequate protection of their rights.
Despite the obstacles they face, many rural WHRDs are at the forefront of human rights advocacy in many fields, including land use, the environment, and natural resources. While they fight for better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities, they face many barriers because they are women. WHRDs often focus on issues that put them at particular risk of violence and other forms of abuse, such as judicial harassment.
When WHRDs have taken the lead in opposing land confiscation, forced evictions, unfair land distribution, the implementation of infrastructure projects, the development of extractive industries, and environmental degradation associated with these actions, many have been met with extreme, and sometimes, deadly violence.
To read the press release please click here.