NSC approved to use Section 21 in Internal Security Act 2008: for southern security cases to surrender then not convicted (30 October 2008 Isara News, Unofficial translation)
Ministry of Justice proposed the enforcement of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2008 and the Internal Security Act B.E. 2551 as an amity law since they contain more flexible clauses than the Penal Code. Also, the laws are more appropriate to unrest in the Southern border provinces where a lack of mutual trust between state and public is predominant.
Lately, it was reported that the National Security Council (NSC) has agreed to the proposal for the application of security laws in lieu of Penal Code on certain matters including the arrest or detention of suspects in security cases in Southern border provinces. It means all detained suspects might not have to always face criminal prosecution. Instead, other channels shall be devised such as those provided for by Section 21 of the Internal Security Act and other possibility whereby the suspects are allowed to turn themselves in in order to waive criminal prosecution. It will be something similar to leniency and pardon given to communist party’s members through the 66/23 policy to win over the communist factions.
Section 21 of the Internal Security Act goes “In the designated area where the ISOC is authorized by the cabinet to operate, should be there any persons who have committed an offence related to national security as per the criteria set forth by the cabinet, and should the persons change their mind and turn themselves in to the officers, or in the case that after investigation, the inquiry officers are convinced that the persons have committed the act out of wrong belief or a lack of knowledge, the persons shall be given a chance to change their behavior. Such an approach shall benefit efforts to uphold national security. In such a case, the inquiry officers can submit the inquiry reports together with their comments to the director (of training facility).
Should the director agree with the suggestions of the inquiry officers, the inquiry reports and plus the opinion of the director shall be submitted to the Court. If deemed fit by the Court, the public prosecutor may request the Court to order the alleged offenders to be taken for training courses organized by the director at the designated place and time, but not more than six months as well as to abide by other instructions made by the Court.
The implementation of subsection two can be carried out only based on the willingness of the alleged offenders to participate in the training and to abide by relevant conditions.
After the alleged offenders have completed the training and acted in compliance with the conditions set forth by the Court, the right to criminalize the alleged offenders shall cease.”
The source from MOJ states that consultation has been made with the Fourth Army Area Commander and NSC, and it was agreed by all that Section 21 of the Internal Security Act can be applied to show leniency instead of using the Penal Code for certain security cases. As a result, some suspects shall not face normal justice system, but by the court order, they shall be required to go for training.
“The methods used in the training shall be different from the indoctrinating ones used in the past. It is impossible to completely change people’s mindset in just 20-30 days. But we shall allow them to raise the issues upfront, i.e., what issues they want to see addressed in their localities, what their suggestions are toward peace building in the Deep South, etc. This is part of the tactic to bring the simmering underground political rifts to the surface.”
“Many agencies have been hinging on this method. The challenge is the insurgent groups know that should we be able to bring the issues to the table, they will lose. Thus, everyday they stick to their tactics to abet fear including committing daily assassination. They attempt to prevent us from exploiting political tools such as the 66/23 policy and other peaceful methods. I believe that Section 21 can help us to solve the problem.”
The same source reiterates that principally, the aim of the method is to bring all the issues including political issues to the table. It is not really an attempt to negotiate. It simply aims at gathering the information and analyzing it in order to know what the real suggestions local people have toward peace building are and to devise a standard response.
In the next move, NSC and MOJ shall propose the idea to the Prime Minister and the cabinet for approval and then the policy shall be developed and implemented. It is important to make sure that officer at all levels understand the implication of this policy and that Thai people in other 73 provinces are convinced that such a method can help to restore sustainable peace in the Deep South.”