Published on BankokPost.com, July 13, 2007.
What are the successes? Our success can’t be judged from the number of cases we investigated or the outcome. Our mission is more about creating social change, which sometimes can’t be measured. I am confident our society has become more aware of human rights protection.
I think we’ve done a good job in laying the foundation for human rights protection and investigation of abuses. We’ve set up an inquiry procedure and a strong network of villagers and local administrators to monitor human rights abuse.
We’ve also created public awareness of the community’s right to manage natural resources. That is, in fact, not regarded as a human right at the international level.
Considering the scope of our work, I can say that Thailand’s first national human rights commission has been more progressive than in other countries.
What are major problems? Government negligence in not taking into consideration our reports and recommendations is the biggest problem. We investigated over 3,000 cases, but the Thaksin government took only one for consideration, the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline, and sent it to parliament.
It was very discouraging during our first three years in office as the government did not even inform us if they received our reports. Only in the last three years did they bother to tell us that the document had reached the prime minister’s office.
What is the most significant case your commission has worked on? … (full text).