National Human Rights Commission (Thailand)

The Thai National Human Rights Commission (Thai: คณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ; rtgs: Khana Kammakan Sitthi Manutsayachon Haeng Chat; Abrv: NHRC) was established 13 July 2001 as a national human rights institution.


The inception of the Commission came after a clash (known as “Black May”) between pro-democracy demonstrators and the military in May 1992 which resulted in severe casualties.[1] The Cabinet (42: Prem Tinsulanonda 3 March 1980 30 April 1983) passed a resolution in September the same year, to establish a national mechanism committed to the protection of human rights. The national human rights commission was eventually mandated in Article 199 and 200 of the Constitution adopted in October 1997, and formally constituted in July 2001.[2] From its inception to 31 May 2005, it received a total of 2,148 complaints of which 1,309 had already been investigated, 559 were still in the process of investigation, and 209 were in the process of gathering evidence. These complaints covered not only civil and political rights but also other spheres of rights including economic, social and cultural rights.[3] As for the "clash" that inspired the NHRC, on 16 May 2002, Amnesty International issued a press release noting that ten years later, justice had still not been done.[4]

Nevertheless, as a result of its proactive stance in relation to corporate-related human rights abuses, NHRC is widely accepted by the public, and it has apparently been receiving an increasing number of cases in recent years.[5] Many cases are still being resolved but the NHRC remains committed to affording victims of corporate related human rights abuses and access to remedies. The NHRC’s mechanism is easy to understand and is similar to court-based adjudication. The difficulty lies in the lack of enforcement powers and hence in the lack of ability to order remedies if one party defaults and the National Assembly fails to look into the problem. Hence, there is the possibility that the victim may not have access to any remedies and thus greater enforcement powers are needed.

Coup of 2006

The NHRC began to experience severe difficulties after the Thai military seized power in the 2006 Thailand coup. The Commission remains in existence but members have not been appointed to replace those whose terms have come to an end. Saneh Chamarik, chairman of the Commission, defended the coup, stating in an interview:

I do not think [the coup] is about progression or regression [of democracy], but about problem solving.

His remark was criticized by Suwit Lertkraimethi, an organizer of the 19 September Network against Coup d'Etat, who noted, "His role is to protect human rights, but his statement showed his approval of human-rights violations." Suwit demanded Saneh's resignation from the NHRC.[6]


It is accredited with "A status" by the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), and is a member of the regional NHRI network, the Asia Pacific Forum.

Notable decisions


  1. Ken Bhattacharjee (December 1999). "The New National Human Rights Commission Act in Thailand". Focus. Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center. 18. II. Background. Retrieved 9 March 2012. The impetus to create an independent national human rights commission in Thailand came in May 1992, when the military cracked down on massive pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital, Bangkok, resulting in at least fifty-two deaths, thirty-eight disappearances, and hundreds of injuries
  2. "The First National Human Rights Commission of Thailand: some reflections of the six-year experience" (PDF). report submitted at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, Sydney, Australia. Asia Pacific Forum. 24–27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2012. The First National Human Rights Commission of Thailand started in July 2001. Under the National Human Rights Commission Act B.E. 2542 (1999), the Commission will hold office for a six-year term and serve only one term. Subsequently, the present Commission ends its term since July 2007 and remains until the newly appointed members take office. It is, therefore, the good opportunity that the report to the 12th Annual Meeting will reflect its experience of the past six years.
  3. "Reply of the Kingdom of Thailand on the List of Issues to be taken up by the Human Rights Committee in connection with the consideration of the initial report of Thailand under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—ICCPR" Check |url= value (help) (Microsoft Word). 3. Please inform the Committee about action taken by the National Human Rights Commission since its establishment (paras. 187-189 of the report) in the implementation of the Covenant rights. Please provide figures on how many complaints have been received, and how many investigations have been made by the NHRC, and with what results. p. 3. Retrieved 9 March 2012. The following information is supplied by the National Human Rights Commission as of 31 May 2005.
  4. "Thailand: 10 years later still no justice for the May 1992 victims" (also available as PDF). Press release. Amnesty International. 16 May 2002. Embargo Date: 16 May 2002 17:00GMT. Retrieved 9 March 2012. It has been 10 years since the military violently suppressed mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok during May 1992. At least 52 people were killed, hundreds were injured, and 34 'disappeared' without a trace. Yet those responsible have still not been brought to justice.
  5. Telephone interview with Professor Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson of the Thai National Human Rights Commission.
  6. The Nation, Activists to hold anti-coup gathering, 22 September 2006
  7. "KKU President Absent, NHRC Hears Law Dean's Case". The Isaan Record. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011. [NHRC] met yesterday to continue its investigation into the abrupt dismissal of Acting Dean Kittibodi....
  8. "NHRC Exonerates Law Dean, Condemns KKU". The Isaan Record. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012. On February 28, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) released a report condemning [KKU] for arbitrarily and unjustly dismissing Kittibodi Yaipool from his position as the Acting Dean of the Law Faculty. Mr. Kittibodi, whose abrupt dismissal came in June 2011, submitted the case to the NHRC because he believed that the Office of the President had abused its power for political reasons.

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