Thailand completes initial draft of new constitution
Thailand completes initial draft of new constitution

[JURIST] The Thai Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) announced on Friday the completion of the first draft of a potential constitutional charter and its submission to an advisory council for review. The new document would replace the one voided nearly a year ago by military coup and could be ratified as soon as September of this year. Should the constitution be ratified, it would become the country’s twentieth since 1932. Previous experience over past constitutional and political issues has influenced the drafting of the new charter. The new document seeks to protect against the previous problems of monopolization of power by elected officials, a lack of checks and balances, money politics and corruption by creating unique provisions such as the exclusive appointment of senators by state committees, the possibility of a non-elected person becoming prime minister in an emergency and the creation of a people-centric council meant to check politicians. However, the charter has been criticized as undemocratic for it’s distinctive modifications allowing the transfer of power from elected members to the non-elected.

Thailand has experience much 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. Early this month, the Thai Prime Minister announced that the country will no longer be under martial law, but be governed by a new security order [JURIST report] based on an interim constitution that would allow for the apprehension without a warrant for anybody deemed to be a threat to national security by the prime minister. This new order drew the concern [JURIST report] of the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, who noted that the new interim constitution is more conducive to wide-scale human rights violations, such as the elimination of freedom of expression and the essential legalization of human rights violations under the authority of the prime minister.