BANGKOK — The Thai authorities on Friday declined to respond to a civil rights group’s calling upon foreign governments to press Thailand due to its poor human rights records.

In its statement, Human Rights Watch said hundreds of critics and protesters who challenged the now-defunct junta are still facing prosecution and possible imprisonment, even as the military regime no longer existed on paper. Bangkok is currently hosting the 35th ASEAN summit, which ends tomorrow.

“Human Rights Watch called on concerned governments to press the Thai government to drop all pending criminal charges for peaceful speech and assembly, repeal all remaining junta orders restricting basic rights,” the US-based group said.

Government spokeswoman Naruemon Pinyosinwat declined to comment when questioned on Friday evening.

“We have no opinion on the matter,” she said by phone.

The report released by Human Rights Watch said five years under the military’s rule saw intense repression and uses of sedition laws to punish those who speak out against the regime.

Two spokesmen who served under the junta would not discuss its track record of human rights.

Col. Winthai Suvaree, the spokesman of the former junta, said he needed more time to “do homework” before commenting, while former government spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak said he no longer had the authority to speak.

“We don’t carry out the duty any longer,” Maj. Gen. Weerachon said. “It won’t be appropriate to comment.”

Human Rights Watch said dissidents continued to face violence and suppression under the new government, which supposedly replaced the junta.

“Little has changed under the new government. The government needs to stop prosecuting its critics and dissidents, which only makes a mockery of claims that democratic rule has been restored,” group legal advisor Linda Lakhdir wrote in the report.

She added, “Thailand’s friends should act together to press for change before the repression of the junta years become too deeply embedded. The window for change under this government is rapidly closing.”

Source