This informative report from March 2019 has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Conventional wisdom suggests that human rights abuses increase under authoritarianism or autocratic governments and decline under democratic governments. However, despite frequent regime changes in Thailand since 2001, human rights abuses in the country have remained generally persistent. To explain this puzzling circumstance, this thesis examines data from the Political Terror Scale (PTS), the Polity IV Project, the U.S. State Department, and nongovernmental human rights organizations. The thesis finds that all governments in Thailand between 2001 and 2017—even those that are usually described as democratic—displayed significant authoritarian characteristics, and that the persistence of authoritarianism also explains the persistence of human rights abuses throughout this period. More specifically, the thesis shows that only Thaksin Shinawatra's government (2001-2006) can be classified as democratic, and Thaksin explicitly pledged to rule Thailand with an iron fist. All other governments were either clearly authoritarian or semi-authoritarian; none should be categorized as clearly democratic. Therefore, the persistently high level of human rights abuse should be viewed as a result of persistently authoritarian aspects of government in Thailand.
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Thailand claims that it joined the United Nations and entered into the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to display a commitment to the preservation of human rights, to reestablish itself as an ethical member of the international community following World War II, to demonstrate its ability to adhere to international standards, and to display a sense of responsibility to the major players in the international community. If democratic Thai governments have committed egregious human rights abuses, such abuses detract from these claims and contradict conventional theory about the effects of democratization on human rights. Further, a deeper understanding of why—and under what conditions—specific abuses occurred is integral to improving Thailand's democratic governance and strengthening the country's respect for human rights. Improved respect for human rights may lead to less corruption, a renewed sense of legitimacy, and stronger policy, advocacy, education, and international relationships. If Thailand's government takes steps to reform, reduce human rights abuses, and form a stable political ground, the result will be a stronger international image for Thailand and a heightened collective value for the country as an ally in the Indo-Pacific region.