Will Amnesty International leave Thailand?

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The Labour Ministry says it is considering whether to refuse Amnesty International Thailand a new operating licence after determining the rights group had failed to comply with certain legal requirements.

Boonchob Suthamanaswong, the permanent secretary, on Tuesday said Amnesty International Thailand had submitted a renewal application with the ministry following the expiry of the old licence on Jan 20. Licence renewals take place every two years. The request will be looked at by a ministry panel tasked with enforcing regulations regarding operating licences granted to international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The panel’s job is to ensure NGOs comply with Labour Ministry regulations.

A decision to grant or renew a licence depends on certain criteria, including the organisation not working for profit or being driven by a political agenda that threatens national security, Mr Boonchob said.

The permanent secretary further noted that the organization failed to submit its six-month activity report and has been accused of taking a political stance that undermines the country’s stability.

Amnesty’s support for protest leaders who were already found to violate the law by the Constitution Court has prompted outrage from critics who said that the organization is causing unrest in the country. 

The petition opposing Amnesty’s presence had attracted 1.2 million signatures, said Seksakol Atthawong, a former red shirt known as “Rambo Isan”, now a vice-minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Mr Seksakol also fronts a new political party called Ruam Thai Sang Chart, which has pledged to propose Gen Prayut as prime minister in the next election.

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