Thailand (which means land of the free) is not free at all according to the report of Freedom House. In fact, along with Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia and Laos, it is worse than the Philippines (which is Partly Free, despite the fact that the President openly sanctions extra-judicial killings).
Freedom House is not technically part of the US government; but as it is funded by them, nobody would seriously expect their results to be significantly different from what they would be if they were compiled by the state Department or Pentagon.
Here are the defense pacts with USA, these match nicely with the Freedom House map of World Freedom:
Philippines (mutual pact)
Japan (mutual pact)
South Korea (mutual pact)
AZAC (USA, Australia, New Zealand)
NATO (United States, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia).
True believers will say the USA only makes Military Pacts with Free countries. Skeptics will say that their interpretation of Freedom and their fact finding is skewed in favour of the Military Partners of the USA.
The Anomaly is Turkey, which is only Partly Free, but a member of NATO. True believers will say this is because of political harassment of opposition members. Skeptics will say that it is because Turkey is moving away from NATO and may be considering alliances with Russia, Iran and China.
The Freedom House understanding of “Freedom” is complicated and eclectic. It involves measures for “Political Pluralism and Participation” and “Associational and Organizational Rights”. By contrast the Dictionary Definition is quite straight forward. Wiktionary (the free dictionary) gives us:
1. The state of being free, of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
2. The lack of a specific constraint, or of constraints in general; a state of being free, unconstrained.
So, lets look at a map based on the primary dictionary definition. We find that the USA is the least free country in the World; it has both the highest number of prisoners and the highest per capita number of prisoners.
This does not help with Thailand much, it also has a high prison population.
Despite all this, Freedom House seems to be take seriously, see Prachatai English (3 Feb):
Freedom House: Thailand remains “Not Free” country three years in a row
Once again, Thailand has been ranked by Freedom House as 'Not Free' due to chronic human rights violations, suppressed freedom of expression and a military-sponsored draft constitution.
On 2 February 2017, Freedom House published its annual report titled Freedom in the World 2017: Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy, a review of the freedom situation worldwide. According to the report, 2016 marked the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom since it has been threatened by populist and nationalist policies in many countries.
Meanwhile, as China and Russia continue to exert a significant influence on their neighboring region, authoritarian ideas appear to be constantly reinforced.
The report states that the reason why Thailand remains in the category of ‘Not free’ country is mainly because of the alleged human rights violations and a culture of impunity. It also points out that the ruling junta is responsible for this poor ranking since it rejects any form of criticism against itself and would prosecute anyone who commit such an action.
“Thailand’s military junta, which seized power in a 2014 coup, maintained its grip on power by prosecuting even the slightest criticism under an array of restrictive laws. In this constrained atmosphere, voters approved a draft constitution that guaranteed the military outsized influence over civilian politics even after general elections scheduled for 2017,” read the report.
This year, Thailand scored six out of seven in the political rights index (one depicts the most free and seven represents the least free) and five out of seven on civil liberties index.
Thailand has historically been classified as a “Partly Free” country by the Freedom House. However, as soon as a junta seize the power, Thailand is classified as a ‘Not Free’ country. In 2007, Thailand was also ranked in the ‘Not Free’ category following the 2006 coup d’état.