Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Thailand received a downward trend arrow due to the use of violence in putting down street protests in April and May 2010, and the coercive use of lèse-majesté laws and emergency powers to limit freedom of expression and personal autonomy.
Thailand experienced some of the worst street violence in its history in April and May 2010, as authorities clashed with tens of thousands of antigovernment “red shirt” protesters occupying the heart of Bangkok’s commercial district. Around 90 people were killed, and hundreds of others were injured. In April the government imposed a state of emergency in Bangkok and 23 provinces, and it remained in place in the capital and some other areas until just before the end of the year. Also during 2010, the government aggressively employed lèse-majesté laws and the emergency powers to curb freedom of expression and political speech. Following the crackdown on protests in April and May, the government charged red-shirt leaders, including exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, with terrorism, and froze the assets of suspected red-shirt financiers.
Thailand is not an electoral democracy. The most recent national parliamentary elections in December 2007 proceeded without major disruptions and returned Thailand to civilian rule following the 2006 military coup, but they were not free and fair. The military retained significant influence, and martial law was in effect in 25 provinces at the time of the elections. The CNS maintained tight control over the electoral process and deliberately maneuvered to influence the outcome against the PPP. Moreover, the PPP-led government that emerged from the voting was toppled in December 2008 in what many observers regarded as a judicial coup. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who took power after the PPP’s ouster, had not sought a popular mandate through new national elections by the end of 2010.