(BANGKOK, March 29, 2022)—Civil society groups in Thailand are protesting a new bill under consideration by the Thai Cabinet that threatens the work of civil society groups operating in Thailand. In support of these efforts, on March 23, 2022, Fortify Rights organized a closed-door briefing session on Thailand’s draft of Not-for-Profit Organization (NPO) law for Thai civil society organizations. The briefing included an overview of the draft NPO law, an explanation of the history of the law and opposition against it, and a discussion on the problematic provisions of the draft law.
The government published this new draft bill in January 2022 after the Thai Cabinet scraped an earlier bill following concerns with the earlier bill’s purpose, broad scope, burdensome financial and reporting obligations, restrictions on foreign funding, and punishment provisions. However, the new bill suffers from similar problems and has received significant opposition from human rights groups and civil society organizations in Thailand.
To contribute to a public consultation process on the bill facilitated by Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), Fortify Rights provided technical support to participants of the briefing session on how to submit individual comments on the draft of NPO law through the Ministry’s online website. We also developed and distributed to partners a section-by-section legal analysis on the draft NPO law. This analysis highlighted how specific provisions contravene international law with the aim of supporting the public consultation process. Earlier on March 15, 2022, Fortify Rights prepared and shared a legal overview on the draft bill for civil society groups to support their understanding of the draft law.
Fortify Rights also shared concerns with the draft bill through an open letter directed to MSDHS and a news releasepublished on March 29, 2022. In the news release and letter, Fortify Rights highlighted overly broad and vague restrictions contained in the Draft Act, which not only contravene international human rights law but threaten to stifle the critical contributions of NPOs to Thai society. A day earlier, Fortify Rights published a video, titled “Drop Draft Legislation on Not-For-Profit Organizations” to highlight how approximately 500 protesters from across Thailand gathered in Bangkok to oppose the Draft Act on March 24, 2022.