For immediate release on 22 May 2016
Two years after the coup:
The military backed constitution could permanently undermine the rule of law,
Rights and freedoms is restricted widely
In the wake of the second anniversary of the 22 May 2014 coup, CrCF has found the rule of law has been subjected to root undermining while various groups of people have been deprived of their rights and freedoms. Marginalized groups have found it even more challenging to demand their fundamental rights including the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which are crucial for them to make their voices heard among the central government and local administration bodies for change in policies and practices. Such restrictions have paved the way for the enforcement of polices including the forest reclamation policy, which may be intended to deal with investors or new encroachers, but it has so far been implemented causing grave impacts on the indigenous and ethnic peoples and landless farmers.
Even though, these marginalized population have been living in the land for a long time, they have subjected to arrests invoking the NCPO Order no. 64/ 2557 and 66/2557 and been prosecuted in criminal and civil suits using forest and national park laws. The legal actions have been lodged against them without taking into account their traditional use and occupation of the land in each of the local areas including the sea nomads in Ban Rawai, Phuket, villagers in Thung Pa Kha, Mae Hong Son, villagers in Ban Naw Lae, Chiang Mai, the destruction of rubber plantations countrywide without providing any remedies, or the forced evictions of villagers in Dong Yai National Park, Burirum.
Such legal actions have made the people particularly vulnerable for their lack of assets to place as bail bond and in several cases; they have unusual convicted and sentenced to jail term without suspension. People have no one to turn to, while the government officials are too fearful of the absolute power of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) including the invocation of power vested in Section 44 of the Interim Constitution to issue administrative orders without accountability and checks and balances and the rule of law for over two years.
The effort to promote the rule of law in the Southern Border Provinces has become ever more challenging. Human rights defenders have been subject to intimidation including being forced to undergo DNA testing, threatened with libel suit if they dare to complain about cases of torture, etc. This happens with minimal judicial oversight and from other independent organizations.
It is most likely that Martial Law and the Emergency Decree shall be enforced permanently without administrative or legislative review. This has given rise to arbitrary detention, deprivation of liberty, and interrogation tainted with complaints about torture and ill-treatments. Even though security related cases in the Southern Border Provinces are not tried in the Military Court, unlike elsewhere in the country after the coup, but there have been arrests of dissenters or suspects, deaths in custody in December 2015 as well as the probable enforced disappearance of suspects in security related cases including Mr. Fadel Soaman on 24 January 2015. Such violence is increased and continues unabated contrast to the situation during 2012-2013, prior to the coup. The latest peace talk in April 2016 has completely failed as concerned parties were unable to negotiate for a mutually agreed deal and to sign an initial agreement or TOR.
According to CrCF’s adviser, Mr. Somchai Homlaor “The constitutional drafting process has failed to reflect an attempt to promote and protect rights and freedoms of the people and the reform of laws and justice process which complies with the rule of law. Meanwhile, the orders issued by the NCPO are a violation of the rule of law and Thailand’s international obligations”
The orders issued by the NCPO when democratic institutions are not put in place, the rule of law are being undermined. Many individuals have to stand trial in the Military Court for alleged violations of national security and the Penal Code’s Article 112. The NCPO Order no. 13/2559 has authorized military officials as law enforcement officials and bestowed on them powers including the search, arrest, and seizure against the so called “influential people”. Such laws will continue enforceable, and can be revoked only by the promulgation of a statutory law. Mr. Somchai also added that “If democratic transformation fails, and the draft Constitution is approved in the referendum, will it make the NCPO Orders enforceable permanently?”
The rule of law in Thailand which has long been established and developed on par with other countries is being watched by international community. The case in point is the latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during 10-11 May 2016. CrCF deems the existing policies or practices of the NCPO and the military junta after the coup has failed to bring about democratization and national reconciliation. The military junta is urged to ensure that general elections be held as soon as possible in order to install a democratically elected government to promptly rectify the problems caused by the orders issued in breach of the rule of law, otherwise, the rule of law shall be permanently destroyed.
CrCF is a non-governmental organization working for justice and promoting, protecting and monitoring human rights situations in Thailand, CrCF was founded in 2002 and has been playing an active role in protecting rights of people of all groups regardless of their nationality, race, gender, language, religion, political opinion, origin, asset, birth, or other status. CrCF holds on to the philosophy and activities for the promotion of human rights and advocates the reform of justice process thoroughly from top down to bottom up placing the emphasis on marginalized groups including the indigenous peoples, ethnic groups, stateless persons, migrant workers, and victims of human rights violation and conflicts in Thailand, etc.
For more information, please contact
Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Adviser, phone 66-2-1015481
Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, CrCF’s Director, phone 66-2-1015481