The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Thailand to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Thailand's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
Support for democracy is the U.S. Government's top priority in the country. The U.S. Government seeks to strengthen civil society, the media, and the judiciary, as well as independent government agencies that provide oversight, encourage constructive policy dialogue, and advance a political culture of checks, balances, and accountability. The U.S. Government continues to provide training and support to judicial, law enforcement, and civil society groups to encourage legal transparency, good governance, and civic participation. The U.S. Government focuses its assistance efforts on rule of law, abatement of violence in the southern provinces, combating trafficking in persons, and promoting the rights of ethnic minority groups, refugees, and asylum seekers. The U.S. Government also focuses on the promotion of labor rights through educating migrant laborers, studying the practices of labor brokers who transport workers overseas, and developing activities for migrant children to decrease their vulnerability to labor exploitation. The U.S. Government encourages military professionalism, competent law enforcement capacity, and a bureaucracy that respects and protects individuals, human rights, the rule of law, and the need to investigate allegations of corruption.
The United States continues to work with the country to build and maintain a criminal justice system that is worthy of public trust and provides ballast to the country during current and anticipated political uncertainty. The U.S. Government uses law enforcement and judicial assistance programs to help the justice system achieve higher levels of public respect and professionalism.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
Since April 2009, the U.S. Government has called for a peaceful, constitutional, and democratic resolution to the continuing political uncertainty and occasional violence. The United States Government supports programs that strengthen democratic processes and independent institutions, assisting organizations and groups that promote respect for the civil and political rights of ethnic and religious minorities and migrant workers. The recently launched Thailand Citizen Engagement and Reconciliation Program seeks to foster constructive civil society engagement with the government as a means to building consensus for democratic political processes and mitigation of social and political extremism. The United States supports freedom of expression and the press through cooperative outreach and capacity-building programs with media organizations and community radio networks, encouraging local organizations to help the media professionalize and develop investigative reporting skills. The United States cooperates with national broadcast networks to develop staff and news production systems, increasing the quality and regional diversity of news reporting. The U.S. Government helped facilitate the travel of several local journalists to the United States to gain a deeper understanding of U.S. policy, culture, and society through domestic reporting tours and citizen exchange programs.
The United States supports a civic education program aimed at increasing civic and political participation and strengthening tolerance among students and seeks to address the southern conflict by facilitating exchange experiences for individuals living in societies divided by religious and ethnic conflict. The United States supports a forensic science program that combats impunity and intolerance in the south and continues to facilitate speaker programs to address civic engagement, political reconciliation through democratic processes, local government responsiveness, constitutional systems, and conflict mitigation. The U.S. Government sponsors capacity building for the criminal justice system that includes human rights training for police and consultations with the U.S. judiciary. The long-term goals of a U.S. Government-funded human rights program in the south are to increase respect for due process and judicial accountability in legal proceedings, promote restorative justice, build the capacity of human rights lawyers, engage in a comprehensive public outreach campaign, and advocate for adherence to international human rights standards.
To support democratic institution building among a diverse audience, the U.S. Government sends local citizens, including Muslims and women, to the United States to learn about democracy, multiculturalism, human trafficking countermeasures, and religious freedom and tolerance. U.S. officials deliver speeches on these and other themes such as the importance of worker rights and collective bargaining during visits to universities and other public venues. The United States administers a small grants program to promote the development of civil society, supporting projects that help protect the rights of trafficked persons, develop youth leadership, promote civic engagement, and support conflict mitigation in the south.
The United States, in conjunction with the UN and other international organizations, maintains close contacts with Burmese refugees, political activists, and NGOs in the country. U.S. officials also work closely with the government to advocate for and monitor the conditions of Burmese refugees and other vulnerable groups within the country's borders. U.S. officials frequently visit the Thai-Burma border to monitor living conditions in the refugee camps. The United States strives to place the refugee situation on more sustainable footing by urging reform of camp regulations and the streamlining of health and education systems. The United States advocates for the humanitarian treatment of ethnic Hmong from Laos who seek refugee status and encourages the government to grant the UN access to Hmong in the country to determine the validity of their refugee claims. The U.S. Government works closely with various government agencies, local NGOs, and international organizations to support efforts to combat all forms of labor exploitation and trafficking in persons, including funding projects and advocating policy change. This support enhances the prevention of trafficking crimes through assistance to at-risk populations and trafficking; it also advances law enforcement and prosecution efforts.
U.S. officials developed and participated in seminars dealing with witness protection, plea bargaining, modernizing the judiciary, public corruption, and obstruction of justice issues. The United States supports the development of rule of law by funding a grant that sponsors workshops and seminars with U.S. officials and judicial experts aimed at improving ethics codes for lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, and combating judicial corruption. The United States and the government continue to fund and manage jointly a regional training center for police, immigration, customs, and other law enforcement officials that includes respect for human rights as part of its curriculum. The U.S. Government funds and receives law enforcement officers for advanced training, and professional conferences and career development, which includes material on U.S. and international standards for human rights as related to law enforcement. International Military Education and Training courses promote the value of maintaining civilian control of the military and are indispensible tools for ensuring the military respects democratic institutions and values.