Community rights clause not fooling anyone

The right of citizens and communities to protect the environment against harmful development projects is now back in the draft constitution, thanks to fierce pressure by civil society nationwide. So people can relax now, right? Not a chance.

Face it. The military regime is in it for the long haul. Their diktats are the ultimate rules of the land. The community rights clause in the draft will be of no help because it has also been heavily diluted, turning active citizens and communities into state vassals.

Enforce land zoning laws

Following fierce criticism from civic and grassroots groups, the Charter Drafting Committee (CDC) has finally promised to include community rights clauses in the draft charter. Violent conflicts over the exploitation of natural resources still loom large, however, when the military government insists on bypassing land zoning laws to back environmentally destructive industries.

The CDC has done the right thing by listening to people on the ground. The military government and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) should do the same to protect the environment and public health.

Community rights must be in the final charter draft

Prepared by the Meechai Ruchuphan-headed Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), this draft does not provide for the rights of people to assemble for the protection of their community and their environment at all.

This is despite the fact that such rights had been enshrined in Thailand's constitutions since 1997.

Both the 1997 and 2007 constitutions allowed communities a direct constitutional channel to stand up and defend themselves.

Charter writers agree to spell out community rights

The Constitution Drafting Committee has agreed to spell out in the new draft communities' right to sue state agencies and the requirement for environmental and health impact assessments for all large projects following numerous complaints.

The move came after people in the provinces, environmental activists and academics had criticised the omissions of community rights provisions present in Section of 67 of the 2007 charter.

Charter ‘threatens people’s rights’

EXPERTS see a grim future if the latest charter draft is accepted as they say it will entirely block legal options for people to protect the country's natural resources and communal rights.

The Thai Society of Environmental Journalists held a discussion on the issue, entitled "Who is the Person People can Count Upon, when Communal Rights in the Constitution are Gone?" One of the panellists said the people had to help each other because the charter draft does not have any legal instruments to help them.

Environmentalists slam draft charter

Environmental activists are calling for revisions to the draft charter, saying it will undermine community rights by not sufficiently protecting and managing natural resources.

The call came Wednesday during a panel held by the Thai Journalists Association.

The panel raised recent concerns over missing community rights in the draft, which shifts the onus to the state to ensure they are protected.