Freedom House says Thailand’s political rights and civil liberties ratings decline

Thailand’s political rights rating dropped from 4 to 6, its civil liberties rating declined from 4 to 5 and its status declined from partly free to not free due to the military coup in May, said Freedom House in its 2015 report of freedom in the world.

The military coup in last May cancelled all electoral plans. As convened by the National Council for Peace and Order in August, the 200-seat National Legislative Assembly of 105 active or retired military officers, 10 police officers and a number of academics, technocrats and business people. Those who had been active in a political party in the past three years were not eligible for appointment to the body. This was followed by the establishment of the National Reform Council and the Constitution Drafting Committee, said Freedom House.

Under the martial law in 2014, the NCPO ordered the cessation of broadcasts by all radio stations, some stations were later allowed to resume programming but forbidden to include any political topics. Two NCPO orders bar media from disseminating information that could cause disorder or that is critical of the regime. In November, Thai Public Broadcasting Service remove programme host Nattaya Wawweerakup as a result of pressure from the NCPO after a show featured villagers and activists criticizing the coup.

The regime requested cooperation from social media networks and operators to prevent the dissemination of messages provoking resistance to the NCPO and threatened legal action for non-compliance. 219 websites were blocked in May alone.

The NCPO banned political discussion in universities, including political seminars, prohibited criticism of the junta in schools. A number of academics were detained or summoned by the NCPO and several have fled the country.