[JURIST] Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha [BBC backgrounder] called Tuesday for a limit to the use of martial law that has been in place since May. Under martial law, all political protests have been banned and the military possesses unbridled authority to arrest and detain citizens. Prayuth stressed that the Thai government has decreased its use of martial law except in cases of emergency and now primarily relies on civilian courts and previous laws. Mounting pressure has been exerted on the military government to put an end to martial law. In his comments, however, Prayuth made no mention of scrapping martial law altogether.
Thailand has experienced great upheaval since the military coup of 2014. On May 20 Thailand’s armed forces, led by then-General Chan-ocha, 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.