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United Nations Human Rights

Statement by OHCHR spokesperson on the case of amendment to the military court statute act


We are concerned that a number of proposed amendments to the 1955 Act on the Organization of Military Courts due for consideration this week are not in line with international human rights standards. The National Legislative Assembly that was appointed by the military government in 2014 is expected to adopt the amendments on Thursday.

We are particularly concerned that the proposed amendment to section 46 would authorize military commanders to issue detention orders for both military personnel and civilians under the Criminal Procedure Code for up to 84 days with no judicial oversight. Since the May 2014 coup, military courts have had jurisdiction over civilians for specific offenses, including lese majeste, security offences and violations of Orders of the National Council of Peace and Order. The proposed amendment could be applied in such cases.

Detention without judicial review breaches the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party. Under Article 9, a person detained on suspicion of a criminal offence is to be brought promptly before a judge. The Human Rights Committee that oversees the ICCPR has interpreted “promptly” to mean within a few days.

OHCHR notes assurances by the current Government of its commitment to uphold its international human rights obligations. We urge the National Legislative Assembly to revise the proposed amendments in line with international human rights standards, including the right to judicial review of detention, right to counsel and right to appeal. We call on the Government to restrict the use of military courts to military offences committed by military personnel. Under the ICCPR, Thailand has a duty to ensure that everyone has the right to a “fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law,” (article 14) and the Human Rights Committee has underlined that the military character of a trial should in no way affect these rights.