Thailand opens specialized corruption court
Thailand opens specialized corruption court

Thailand on Monday opened a specialized corruption court in hopes of finalizing cases more quickly and possibly expanding the reach of the cases that can be tried. Government corruption was one of the rationales provided for the military coup two years ago, and this dedicated court is one route to implementing Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s recent promise to eliminate corruption within 20 years [Pattaya Mail report]. The court will hear any case dealing with corruption [Al Jazeera report] in the private or public sector. While there are hopes of success for the court, some believe it is only a symbolic move intended to gain public support for the government.

Thailand has been home to significant human rights concerns for years, some of which stem from the nation’s court system. In particular, human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over violations in Thailand since the military junta came to power in May 2014. At the end of September Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report detailing the prevalence of torture employed by Thai authorities and claiming the military government has led to a “culture of torture” [JURIST report]. Earlier in September Thailand’s military government announced [JURIST report] that it will prosecute cases concerning national security and “royal insult” in civilian courts, as opposed to military courts where the cases have been tried since 2014. Also in September the Thailand Supreme Court affirmed [JURIST report] a 20-year prison sentence given to protest leader Sondhi Limthongkul in 2012. In August Thailand passed a new constitution [JURIST report] by referendum vote. The constitution was drafted by a military-appointed counsel and is feared to be another step in entrenching military control of the nation. Thai military officials in July charged [JURIST report] three human rights defenders with criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crimes Act because of a report they published detailing acts of torture in Thailand. In April Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Thailand to stop harassing and charging human right lawyers for defending victims of the government’s abuses, and to revoke military police powers.