HRW: Thailand government must reject pro-military detention amendments
HRW: Thailand government must reject pro-military detention amendments

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [press release] Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly to reject a proposed amendment to the Military Court Act that would allow the government to detain civilians up to 84 days without charging them of a crime. The proposed amendment comes after last year’s military coup that gave military tribunals the right to prosecute all penal and lèse-majesté [JURIST commentary] crimes. The country’s military tribunals are currently being checked by judicial oversight, which serves as the only protection against prolonged arbitrary detention. If passed, the amendment would allow the Thai military to arbitrarily detain, torture and try civilians without any restraint or review. HRW notes that ratification would result in a violation of Thailand’s duties to protect due process and fair trial requirements under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [official website, text].

Thailand has experienced great upheaval since the military coup of 2014. On May 20 Thailand’s armed forces, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha [BBC profile], declared martial law [JURIST report] and began a regime of censorship. Two days later the military proceeded to take control [JURIST report] of the country and suspend the constitution. The governmental control was followed by the replacement of civilian courts with military tribunals, called National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [MThai report, in Thai]. The military saw themselves validated in late July when the king expressed his support [JURIST report] for an interim constitution that would award great power to the NCPO. However, Thailand’s armed forces has faced resistance from the international community and the Thai people themselves. In August the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] spoke out against Thailand’s prosecution and sentencing practices as a threat [JURIST report] to the right of free expression. Finally, in September, a group of Thai human rights activists denounced [JURIST report] the country’s martial law and called for it to end.