As many of you will be aware, Thailand's first referendum on the draft permanent Thai constitution is being held today, Sunday 19 August 2007. What some fo you may not be aware of however, is that the draft constitution has far-reaching implications for HIA's use in Thailand.
Decharut Sukkumnoed, Director of the Thai Healthy Public Policy Foundation, has provided this translation of the relevant sections of the constitution:
"Any projects and activities, which may cause serious impacts on the environment, natural resources, and health, cannot be done without conducting an impact assessment on environment quality and health of population in the local community and organizing a public hearing process for affected people and stakeholders. Moreover, these projects and activities cannot be started without the comments and opinions from independent organizations, which are comprised of environmental and health NGOs, and the representatives from higher education institutes which provide education on environment, natural resources, and health."
"The rights of local people to sue against any governmental organizations in order to make them follow the privious principle [i.e. section 67(2)] will be protected by this constitution."
The constitution's provisions for HIA's use follows the Thai National Health Act B.E. 2550 (2007) that was proclaimed on the 9th of March, which allows Thai people the right to demand a HIA be conducted and to participate in the HIA process (more information in this post).
I'm sure we'll all follow developments in Thailand today with considerable interest.