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Martial Law

Lifting of Martial Law: The Declaration of the Martial Law is Against Democratic Principles, Thailand


Joint Statement
Human Rights Lawyer Association (HRLA.)
Union of Civil Liberties (UCL.)
Cross-Cultural Foundation

Lifting of Martial Law: The Declaration of the Martial Law is Against Democratic Principles

Released on 20 May 2014

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Army Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army declared the Martial Law, 1914 throughout the country and subsequently announced the Army’s Order Number 1/2557 and 2/2557 on the early morning of the 20th May 2014. The declaration of Martial Law is intended to maintain order, peace and to manage the public protests. The Martial Law also designates agencies to be under the command of the Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC)

The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and the following organizations denounce the declaration of the Martial Law for the following reasons.

  1. The Martial Law has several provisions that imposes severe restrictions on enjoyment of rights and libeties of a person. Thus, the declaration of Martial Law must only be exercised strictly under the circumstance of serious threats of a war or a riot and must only be exercised when it is strictly unavoidable and other ordinary measures are not capable of containing the situation. At present, the situation in the country is such that it can be contained by the government through the enforcement of ordinary laws. The authorties can enforce the ordinary laws to manage protests and ensure the safety of the general public. The circumstances of the situation do not justify declaration of the Martial Law. Thus, the declaration of Martial law is against democratic principles. It is also against the objectives of the law which is to control an extreme violent situation.
  2. Martial Law gives power to military authorities to arrest, search and seize without any liability for actions taken under the Martial Law. The law also authorizes the military authorities to prohibit public protests, distribution of newspapers, advertisements and use of public roads, etc. Such powers impose limitations on the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of the press and rights to access justice. Restrictions on these fundamental rights and freedoms will only work towards deterioration of the conflict situation. Consequently, the enforcement of the Martial law will not serve the purpose of preventing violence and experience of the use of Martial Law in southern Thailand reaffirms this fear.
  3. Though the Martial Law empowers the authority to order and prohibit the people from participating in a wide range of actions, law enforcement agencies and other agencies must remember that exercise of power under the law must comply with the Constitution of Thailand and must respect the rights and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution. All state agencies are bound to implement the law according to the provision of Section 27 of the Constitution of Thailand. Thus, the Army cannot exercise the power disproportionately or violate the rights and liberties of the people. In any case that there is any damamge sustained under the enforcement of the Martial Law, officials and state agencies are accountable under the Official’s Wrongful Liability Act (1996).

From the aforementioned reasons, the undersigned organizations regard that the declaration of the Martial Law is unable to address the situation and build trust within the society. Additionally, maintaining peace and order in the country requires trust and sincerity among every sector, and especially among the conflicting parties. It is also important that the solution must be a peaceful, participatory, and democratic one. Thus, we, the undersigned, request the government and the Armed Forces to immediately revoke the Martial Law declaration.

With Respect to Human Rights and Dignity

Human Rights Lawyer Association (HRLA.)
Union of Civil Liberties (UCL.)
Cross-Cultural Foundation