Action urged on rights abuses

Action urged on rights abuses

IN RESPONSE TO THE rise in violations of community rights under moves to manage natural resources over the past six years, the National Human Rights Commissioner (NHRC)'s sub-panels will soon submit a report asking the authorities to solve problems urgently, NHRC member Niran Pitakwatchara said yesterday. The authorities referred to in the report are the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's government and related agencies.

Niran, chairman to the sub-panel on community rights and the sub-panel on land and forest, said the NHRC had received 800 complaints from June, 2009, to July this year, and the sub-panel's investigation concluded that community rights and resources bases were violated on nine issues, namely:

 Problems in setting up a development plan in the South;

 City planning formulation;

 Problems stemming from the implementation of policy to promote Special Economic Zones (SEZs) along the border;

 Negative impacts from state officials citing the NCPO Order No 64/2014 to resolve deforestation;

 Problems with energy-resource management;

 Pollution from factories and industrial waste-disposal management;

 Problems with mineral-resource management;

 Trans-border human-rights violations;

 Problems with fishery resource management.

The report also suggested possible solutions and remedial measures as follows:

 End or suspend upcoming projects or activities that may have a negative impact on natural resources, environment and community rights. Such projects include planned coal-fired power plants, Satun's Pak Bara deep-sea port, city-planning projects that reportedly lack public participation and the Potash mining project in Udon Thani province. If such projects have to go head, then the entire process should be restarted and include public participation in decision making.

 Compensate and provide remedies as well as rehabilitation for people affected by already implemented projects, such as Loei's gold mine, bio-mass power plants, petroleum-survey projects in many Northeast provinces and industrial pollution.

 As for negative impacts from state officials' operations as per NCPO's Order No 64/2014, the NHRC has agreed that the policy to retrieve forested and state-owned land, cutting down rubber trees that allegedly encroach as well as the prosecution of land-encroachment suspects who are underprivileged or poor people should stop. The master plan to tackle deforestation and state-owned land encroachment and sustainable natural resource management should be reviewed, while public participation should also be allowed in the plan review and adjustments.

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