In February 2021, the Thai Cabinet approved a highly restrictive draft Act on the Operation of Not-for-profit Organizations (“NPO bill”) proposed by the Office of the Council of State (OCS). ICNL, other NGOs, and international experts submitted comments during the open hearing period on the bill in March 2021. ICNL’s “5 things to Know” briefer summarizes the February 2021 NPO bill here. In June 2021, the Thai Cabinet subsequently released principles related to money-laundering and terrorist financing to inform the NPO bill. ICNL submitted a legal analysis of these principles to the Council of State during the July 2021 open comment period. The government also proposed restrictive free speech and ‘anti-fake news’ regulations under emergency decrees in summer 2021, and restrictive amendments to its Anti-Money Laundering Act and communicable disease regulations in fall 2021.
In January 2022, the Thai Cabinet approved a new version of the NPO bill. While containing a few more enabling provisions than the February 2021 version, Section 20 of the bill institutes extremely broad prohibitions on NGO activities that are incompatible with international law, and other provisions require burdensome reporting and disclosures. Thai NGOs have pushed back strongly against the bill, submitting a petition voicing this opposition, signed by 1,800 NGOs and protesting in front of the Ministry for Social Development and Human Security. The bill is still pending and has not yet been submitted to parliament. For more on the bill, see here.