Thailand’s Constitutional Referendum Passes Amidst Crackdown on Freedom of Expression

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On August 7, 2016, the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) monitored Thailand’s local polling stations for the 2016 Thailand constitutional referendum, despite being refused accreditation by the country’s government. The referendum passed with 61% voting in favor of the new constitutional provisions. ANFREL issued a statement after the vote voicing their concerns about the restrictions imposed on Thai citizens leading up to the election.

The country’s military backed the referendum which will prolong military rule. The new upper house will be appointed by the military and its allies and will join the lower house in voting for the prime minister. Prior to the vote, the junta squashed public debate regarding the proposed constitution by imposing laws that banned protests and outlawing public education campaigns. People who violated the ban, like the “Vote No” campaigners, are facing possible prison sentences upwards of 10 years and fines up to $5,600. The World Movement for Democracy joins the international community in condemning the crackdown on “Vote No” campaigners and asks the government to respect their right to a fair trial under Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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