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Thailand court declares anti-protester laws unconstitutional

The Civil Court of Thailand [official website] on Wednesday ruled that orders targeting anti-government protesters from the Prime Minister and a Special Security Command Center under the special security law known as the Internal Security Act [JURIST report] were unconstitutional, violating the protesters' constitutional rights. In addition to ruling on the constitutionality of the special orders, the court upheld [Guardian report] the state of emergency declared by the Cabinet of Thailand [official website] in January, finding that action was within the power of the executive branch. The court's decision comes just a day after violence erupted [BBC report] in Bangkok as police attempted to clear protest sites throughout the city. At least four individuals were killed and dozens more were injured in the clashes.

Thailand has been embroiled in severe political turmoil since November when protesters took to the street to contest the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile]. Earlier this month Thailand's Constitutional Court [official website] rejected petitions [JURIST report] filed by both the ruling and opposition parties accusing each other of attempting to overthrow the country's government during recent elections. An anti-government protest leader was killed in Bangkok on Sunday. In January Suthin Thararin, a protest leader for the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) [Facebook page], was shot to death [JURIST report] in front of the Sri Eiam Temple in Bangkok while demonstrators blocked a voting station. The shooting came just five days after the Thai government declared [JURIST report] a 60-day state of emergency, granting it broad powers to curtail the political unrest, including the ability to censor media, impose a curfew and detain suspects without charges. These powers are in addition to those granted in November when the prime minister invoked [JURIST report] a special security law known as the Internal Security Act, which conferred broader powers on police forces attempting to contain the protests.

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