Monday, April 4, 2016

THAILAND: Order bestowing sweeping powers and impunity to military breaches rule of law and human rights


A Press Release from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

THAILAND: Order bestowing sweeping powers and impunity to military breaches rule of law and human rights

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has issued the order no. 13/2559 on 29 March 2016 titled, "The Prevention and Suppression of Certain Offences Detrimental to the Maintenance of Public Order or Harmful to the National Economic and Social Systems," which bestows on military officers sweeping powers and exempts them from any judicial review. It is claimed that the exemption from judicial review will help the officers in the prevention and suppression of various criminal offences. However, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) deems the Order of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) as a breach of and contrary to the rule of law and international right to justice process, and even infringes upon the Criminal Procedure Code. It shall subject people to various possible violations of human rights. We have the following observations to share:

1. The definition of the person whose behaviors are liable to a criminal offence and a violation of the order is too broad and subject to the discretion and arbitrary interpretation of the competent officers per the order. The deprivation of liberty as a result of the order can potentially become an arbitrary detention, and likewise an unlawful detention, and/or can be conducted without any predictability and certainty. Even though the order has been issued by a virtue of the law, but its enforcement can be subject to the competent officer's discretion without valid legal ground and without legality. The detention could then be conducted without reasonable ground and without compelling circumstances involving the case, and no other agencies can review the use of the discretion by the competent officer. This will have led to the infringement of rights and liberty including the right to life and asset (if the asset is seized), the right to freedom of expression and peaceful public assembly, etc.

2. According to the new order, the crime prevention and suppression officer is vested with power to deprive a person of liberty for inquiry for seven days while the detention can take place in any place which does not have to be the police station, the prison, or the detention facility. The deprivation of liberty can take in a secret and undisclosed place while access to relatives or lawyers is made impossible. Such deprivation of liberty is a breach of human rights principle and international obligations as well as the Criminal Procedure Code and other fundamental safeguards of the judicial right. It could deprive the person being deprived of liberty of the right to justice process including the right to have access to their families and lawyers, the right to see doctor, etc. It also makes it possible for them to be subject to either torture or enforced disappearance.

3. That Thailand is a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and a signatory to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED) essentially demonstrates its commitment pledged to international community to respect human rights and to take steps toward the complete prohibition of torture or enforced disappearance which is one of the most heinous crimes and could be a crime against humanity. A lack of transparency and accountability as a result of the enforcement of the NCPO order shall subject people to vulnerabilities and fear that their rights enshrined by the Conventions can be violated.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) urges the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, to review and revoke the order to uphold the rule of law and human rights safeguard, particularly the right to justice process which is fundamental and indispensable for the restoration of democracy in Thailand.

For more information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, phone +668-6703-9000

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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.

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