THE Thai government has lifted an overseas travel ban on a group of politicians and activists, but critics have said the move is both insufficient and insincere.
The ban was first put in place after the military coup of May 2014, and applied to over 100 individuals in the country. Nonetheless, authorities said a travel ban would still remain for politicians facing criminal charges – including former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Colonel Piyapong Klinphan, a spokesman for the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), credited the policy shift to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
“The goal is to relax the atmosphere and create an environment of heeding viewpoints from different groups of people,” he said, according to The Nation.
Politicians and officials from both sides of the political divide welcomed the new move.
“I feel happy to have my rights to travel restored, because it’s a right protected by the United Nations conventions,” said former Pheu Thai minister Pichai Naripthapan, reported Khaosod English. Previously, authorities prevented Pichai from travelling to the United States.
But some were noticeably less charitable.
“I don’t feel happy or excited that this order will be repealed, because it shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” said deputy Democrat chairman Nipit Intarasombat.
“Personally, I even think that the repeal comes too late.”
Many remain skeptical of the junta’s new move, saying it was an calculated attempt to appeal to the international community, which has strong criticized the government’s record on human rights.
Some analysts point out that many repressive laws and policies remain. Sirote Klampaiboon, a political science scholar, said that the international community’s concerns are directed at several issues: the broad powers granted to the prime minister by Section 44 of the interim charter; NCPO order 13/2559 which deals with powers of arrest; the Referendum Act which limits debate on the charter draft; and civilians being tried in the military court.
“The junta has not revoked or amended critical laws deemed to pose larger threats. These actually extensively allow the state to regulate people’s behaviors and infringe on human rights,” Sirote told The Nation.