News : Article

APF raises concerns over proposed merger of Thailand's NHRI

Graphic:

The APF has expressed written concern over the proposal to merge the National Human Rights Commission with the Office of the Ombudsman.


The APF has written to Thailand's Constitution Drafting Committee to express its concern over the proposal to merge the National Human Rights Commission with the Office of the Ombudsman.

In his letter, APF Chairperson Dr Ali Ben Smaikh Al-Marri highlighted the very different roles and functions of a national human rights institution and an Ombudsman's Office.

"The merger of these two very different agencies is therefore likely to impact adversely on the work of both institutions," Dr Al-Marri said.

Dr Al-Marri stressed that NHRIs play a valuable role as partners of governments in working to ensure that all citizens are able to enjoy the fundamental human rights protected in their respective constitutions and laws.

The need for and value of a stand-alone national human rights institution has been long recognised by fellow States and governments at the international level, he added.

"For the past 14 years, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has worked with a variety of governments and undertaken significant work in the promotion and protection of the human rights of Thai citizens," said Dr Al-Marri.

"The proposal by the Constitutional Drafting Committee to merge the Commission with the Ombudsman would, however, likely deprive citizens, from whom the Constitution derives its legitimacy, from the protection afforded by an independent national human rights institution."

Dr Al-Marri offered the APF's support to Constitution Drafting Committee, including the provision of advice on the international standards relevant to the establishment and functioning of national human rights institutions, including their accreditation at the international level.

The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand previously issued a statement opposing the planned merger. It stated that combining the two organisations might signify that a reduced priority will be given to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

According to media reports, the committee of the proposed new agency will be composed of 11 people, with seven from the National Human Rights Commission. All members will be selected by the Senate, with members serving five year terms.

Date: 20 February 2015