A team of UN experts today presented their preliminary observations on steps that should be taken by the Royal Thai Government and businesses to improve corporate respect for human rights and to strengthen access to effective remedies.
“We welcome the clear ambition of the Government to become a regional leader on business and human rights and encourage it to take decisive steps towards this objective,” said Dante Pesce, vice-chairperson of the Working Group on business and human rights, at the end of a 10-day visit to the country. (Full mission statement in English and Thai.)
The experts noted how reports on trafficking and forced labour in the fishing industry had been a wake-up call for the Government, which had resulted in a concerted effort to stamp out abusive business practices. They called on the Government to take similar action in other sectors such as agriculture, energy, manufacturing and construction.
“The Government and businesses should improve policies and mechanisms to identify, mitigate and remedy human rights risks, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including for mega projects promoted by Thai companies and investments in other countries in the region,” said Surya Deva, the other member of the Working Group’s visiting delegation.
During the visit, the experts consulted with government authorities, the business sector and a wide range of civil society actors, including representatives of groups who are particularly at risk of business-related human rights abuse, such as migrant workers, human rights defenders, community activists, persons with disabilities and sex workers.
“One critical challenge for Thailand will be to end recurring attacks, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, union leaders and community representatives who speak out against business-related human rights abuse,” the experts said.
“More must be done to protect civic space, including protecting human rights defenders against civil and criminal defamation law suits filed by companies to silence those who stand up for the victims of abuse,” they added.
The experts welcomed the openness of the Government to discuss remaining challenges and to see how these could be tackled and addressed in a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights to be completed later this year.
“We have urged the Government to develop this plan through an inclusive and transparent process that includes all interested parties, including – and in particular – the critical voices, and we are hopeful that the Government will be able to deliver on its commitments,” the experts said.
The Working Group’s final report, including findings and key recommendations, will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019.
Published on OHCHR on April 4, 2018