‘Neutral’ network set up to monitor referendum

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



TWENTY-FIVE events related to the referendum have been cancelled and at least 20 people charged after their expressions of opinion concerning the charter draft, Yingcheep Atchanont, project manager of the legal watchdog Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), said yesterday.

The figures were revealed during a joint press conference held by seven human-rights bodies and alternative news providers who announced the establishment of a new network to monitor the upcoming referendum on the draft constitution. The “Referendum Watch Network” will monitor events during the critical run-up to Sunday’s referendum.

The seven organisations are iLaw, the Human Rights Lawyers Association, the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP) of Mahidol University, the youth network We Watch, thePrachatai online newspaper, the advocacy group Thai Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism (TCIJ), and the online news agency Thaipublica.

The participants realise the referendum process might not be line with democratic and international standards because there have not been inclusive debates, open discussions or independent monitoring centres ahead of the vote, organisers said.

“We feel a bit sorry that the network is being set up less than a week before the referendum day. However, the network will do its best to ensure the referendum is free and fair,” said Prachataidirector Chiranuch Premchaiporn.

Although the network has not been legally accredited or recognised by authorities, Chiranuch said, it will carry out its mission for the benefit of the referendum process.

Screening social network

She said organisations in the network were neutral and would report facts in accordance with their professional ethics.

The network will work as a mediator reporting on critical events related to the referendum, Chiranuch said, adding that it would aggregate and screen information posted on social networks by ordinary people.

However, nationwide coverage might be limited because of the network’s limited staff and contacts, she said.

After the referendum, the network will publish a report evaluating it, she added.

The TCIJ also asked media to overcome the climate of fear and report facts rather than self-censoring, said TCIJ correspondent Raviwan Rakthinkamnerd.

IHRP director Eakpant Pindavanija also encouraged journalists to report stories to the network to help it to widen its coverage.

The network of youth volunteers We Watch, who have been trained by the IHRP, will also help to observe the referendum, said We Watch representative Chompunut Chailie-obun.

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