The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to make the following points in reference to the Public Statement issued by Amnesty International: “Thai Authorities’ Covid-19 Response Must Not Lead to Unwarranted Restrictions on Human Rights and Freedom of Expression,” on 27 March 2020:
1. The Ministry wishes to reiterate that the Declaration of an Emergency Situation in all areas of the Kingdom of Thailand on 25 March 2020 was necessitated by the urgency of the situation to ensure that efforts to contain the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak were carried out in a more coordinated, effective and timely manner. The Government declared the Emergency Situation by virtue of Section 5 of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation B.E. 2548 (2005), based on recommendations from medical and public health executives and experts. The decision was made with due consideration to the effects on the daily lives of the people and state resources for public health. The Government had already stated clearly that this was a temporary measure, as the Emergency Situation would take effect from 26 March 2020 until 30 April 2020, and that it may be legally extended as per necessary circumstances by no more than three months at a time.
2. The spread of COVID-19 is a threat to global public health systems that has caused countless casualties and tragic loss of lives. Many countries have therefore found it imperative to declare a state of emergency or to implement extra precautionary and stringent measures, similar to Thailand, to save the lives and protect the welfare of their citizens which is of utmost importance. Any measures that might inconvenience the daily lives of our citizens are only temporary. This is to guarantee public safety and prevent widespread panic from the dissemination of false and distorted information that could further distress the lives and welfare of citizens. Most importantly, there are no restrictions on the freedom of the press.
3. The Government has consistently implemented measures that are balanced and proportionate with the situation and tried to avoid any excessive actions. However, given that initial measures failed to reduce the number of infections as targeted, while the outbreak continued to escalate, it was thus necessary to pursue more stringent measures that corresponded to the circumstances. This includes the prohibition of citizens to leave their place of dwelling during a certain time of day, or a nationwide curfew. Thailand has introduced such measures while bearing in mind its committments and obligations on international human rights and fundamental freedoms.
4. This is the time for all stakeholders to come together, and work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. All individuals and sectors of society share a critical role and social responsibility to contribute in combating this crisis. Any measures introduced by the Government can not bear fruit without this crucial cooperation from the public, especially in mitigating the risks of local transmission. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs trusts that the people and all organizations, including Amnesty International, would understand the circumstances of this situation and support Thailand’s efforts to overcome this challenging crisis that citizens and governments of the world are currently confronting together.