Background of Internal Security Act 2008 and the Southern Border Provinces

Pls find the English version of Internal Security ACT 2008 at  ISA

            On December 20th, 2007, just a few days before the parliamentary elections, the Internal Security Act (ISA) was passed by the National Legislative Assembly established by Military in 2006, in the face of strong opposition from the civil society. The ISA was announced in the government gazette in Feb 2008.

  It was reported that on 13 October 2009, Mr. Tawin Piensri, Secretary General of National Security Council met with PM. Apisit Vejchachiwa and suggested that NSC recommended the Government to extent the enforcement of Emergency Decree another 3 months. 

            On 13 October 2009, the cabinet has issued the extension of Emergency Decree and also approved in the principle that the Martial law in the 4 districts in Songkla shall be lifted with in 30 Nov 2009 and the declaration of Internal Security ACT 2008 will be announced to enforce new security in the south as a test whether it would help solving the situation. (4 Districts of Songkla was not under the implemetation of Emergency Decree, but Martial Law)

            On 15 October 2009, CrCF and YMAT together with KONRAD organized the public discussion on ISA and its up-coming enforcement of ISA 2008 first in the 4 districts of Songkla and three provinces in the south later in replacing Martial law and Emergency Decree.  The meeting on 15 Oct attracted a number of CSO and villagers especially from Songkla province. However, there is a need to explore more on the regulation that will be issued and later enforced in relation to the declaration of ISA 2008 in Songkla province in Nov 2009.                                                      

           The implementation of ISA in Yala, Pattani and Narathivath  is to start with that the cabinet must pass the resolution to the effect of declaring the implementation of ISA in the southern provinces and replacing the Emergency Decree.

Due to  Article 15 of the Act, the ISA can only be applied to a situation that ‘affects internal security but does not yet require the declaration of a state of emergency under the Act on Government Administration in a State of Emergency’. Such a Resolution would also designate the area of application, the time frame for enforcement and assign the ISOC to take responsibility under the Act. The Prime Minister is responsible to report about the implementation of the Act before the parliament.

            Under Section 21 of the Internal Security Act, if ISOC believes that an accused person has committed an offence relating to national security by mistake or out of ignorance, and the accused should be granted an opportunity to reform himself, the ISOC can with the agreement of the accused, send the accused to a training camp, for a period of time not exceeding 6 months according to principles, methods and conditions determined by the Cabinet.

            Thus the ISA gives extraordinary powers to the ISOC and Cabinet to bypass judicial procedure, determine the guilt of accused persons and curb the liberty of such persons. In such a case, the power to make the accusation and the power to rule whether such an accusation is justified or not is vested in the same body- a clear denial of the checks and balances that are necessary to ensure rule of law.

            Another article that seems to be problematic is Section 23 of the Act which provides “immunity from Administrative Court jurisdiction while exercising the powers provided by the Act.”

            CrCF, under the Access to Justice and Legal protection project, has organized round table closed door discussions on the implementation of ISA 2008 twice; in Bangkok on June 2nd and in Pattani on July 11th, 2008. Representatives of ISOC and the National Security Council were present at both meetings.  Activists from local NGOs, lawyers including legal experts raised concerns about the lack of due process safeguards under ISA.