Public Discussion on Plans for the Future of Thailand: Security Laws and International Standards 07 Nov.2020 at Thammasat University organized by CrCF, MAC, Enlaw and UCL

Public Discussion on Plans for the Future of Thailand: Security Laws and International Standards

Meeting Room 4, Faculty of Social and Humanitarian Science, Social Science Building, Thammasat University

Saturday 7th November 2020, 13.00-17.00

Organized by:
Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MAC), EnLAW Foundation

Reference Documents:

  1. Martial Law 1914
  2. Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations 1915
  3. The Internal Security Act B.E. 2551

Rationale

The State Security Act, which includes the Martial Law Act 1914 , the Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations, B.E. 2548 (Emergency Decree) and The Internal Security Act 2008 was utilized as a tool to provide selective power for the purpose of national security. When these laws were declared and in effect, the civil sector had to utilize laws which were mixed between military, police and civil.

In the year 2020, the Emergency Decree became an important legal tool that the government enacted to manage the protest situation. The government declared a state of national emergency, starting from 25th March 2020, and is still ongoing to the present day. In response to the protests around Bangkok, the Thai government declared a serious emergency situation between 15 October to 22 October to be able to manage and organize public gatherings of civilians in Bangkok.

Since 2005, the emergency situation is further extended and expanded upon in the southern provinces of Thailand every three months in order to address unrest in the area. Some example policies and mandates include, a ban on assembled gatherings, news reports, limited transport routes and special buildings. There was also a notice that allowed state officers to detain suspects for no longer than 30 days, confiscate equipment, and search vehicles, among other things.

As above, this allows state officers to detain protestors at their headquarters, and even if the state of serious emergency is already cancelled, there are still ongoing criminal case proceedings towards those who violate the emergency laws.

Social Media and News content has been cited for action with the media, which is not in accordance with the Computer Crimes Act 2007. The above example points out a structural problem in the internal security law that contradicts International principles and standards. The current constitutional law does not have a framework to control and examine the exercise of power of security in an emergency crisis.

Martial law and emergency situation laws were used as a means of controlling and suppressing the exercising of rights and freedom of the people. The current iteration of the emergency laws provide a large range of power while also being relatively easy to declare and approve. This goes is contrary to normal procedures and principles, as a declaration of national emergency should be heavily scrutinized and analyzed to see if the situation warrants it. Furthermore, there is also a lack of any mechanism which regulates the balance of power which results in a wildly shifting scale of power given due to the emergency decree.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and other joint organizations sees the importance of security law reforms, and have organized an event, composing of an academic discussion on plans for the future of Thailand in terms of internal security laws and international standards. This event was held on Saturday 7th November 2020, at the 4th floor meeting room, Faculty of Social science and Anthropology, Social Sciences Building, Thammasat University at 13.00-17.00.

  1. Objectives
    To plan and establish a framework for state power usage in emergency situations by improving clarity to comply with the rule of law, international standards for human rights, and a free democratic society.
  2. Venue Information
    Saturday 7th November 2020, 4th Floor meeting room, Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Social Science Building, Thammasat University, 13.00-17.00

Summary

*Reform Issues on the Security Laws of Thailand

To guarantee that the security laws shall not be misused Martial Law Act 1914 , the Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations, B.E. 2548 (Emergency Decree) and The Internal Security Act 2008

The structural problems of security laws:

*The laws are so vague and make them too easy to declare emergency situations and to establish enforcing measures

*The laws give too much discretionary power to the executive branch, as opposed to international standards, where emergency situations should be narrowly and strictly interpreted.

*No political responsibility
The laws give the power to announce and extension of the emergency situation only to the executive, without check and balance from the legislative branch, which is contrary to the separation of power principle.

*Cut of the administrative control system, as well as, power of the administrative court
The laws give strong enforcement power, which restrict the citizen’s freedoms and rights, but cut of the administrative control system, as well as, the administrative court jurisdiction.

*Limit the civil, criminal and disciplinary responsibilities

*Provide immunity for the officers from criminal, civil and disciplinary responsibilities, maintain the military court jurisdiction, but no safeguard measures to protect citizens’ rights to remedy and reparations.

Reform Suggestions:

*To establish guarantees in the Constitution of Thailand
*To revoke and amend all security laws in order to comply with the Constitution

  1. Separate level of emergency situations into “Warfare situations” and “Internal emergencies”
    ⁃ Warfare situations (martial law) that require military force and
    ⁃ Internal emergency situations within the country, which can be handled with by the administrative officer, police and civil officers
  2. Declaration of the emergency situations and it’s extension should be under check and balance from the parliament and the court
    ⁃ It has to be a situation that threatens national security, impacts the citizens and the state has no other option available.
    ⁃ The civilian must not be under the military court jurisdiction.
  3. The emergency power must be applied with necessity and proportionality to directly resolve the emergency situation
    ⁃ Revoke a provisions that cutting of the administrative control system, as well as, the administrative court jurisdiction
    ⁃ Revoke the detention power under the emergency decree and apply the standard criminal procedure code
    ⁃ Revoke a provision that gives the immunity from civil, criminal and disciplinary responsibilities
    ⁃ Guarantee the rights to remedy and reparations in cases of human rights violations
  4. Core principle
    ⁃ Not to be used for coup d’état, to destroy the value of parliamentary system, political parties or other similar value.
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