[JURIST] Thailand’s National Reform Steering Committee, which is appointed by the military, proposed a new law on Monday stating that Thai officials convicted of corruption involving more than 1 billion baht (USD $28 million) would be eligible for the death penalty. Officials convicted of corruption charges of less than 1 billion baht could face up to five years in prison [Reuters report]. 155 of the 162 committee members voted in favor of the proposal. Critics say [IBT report] that the proposal is another way for Thailand’s military junta to control allies of the former prime minister, whom they overthrew. Before becoming law, the proposal must be presented to the cabinet, parliament, and constitutional committee for debate.
Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over violations in Thailand since the military junta came to power in May 2014. In December Thailand’s parliament passed [JURIST report] a controversial cyber-crimes bill that gave the government the right to obtain user data without court approval. In September Thailand’s Bangkok South Criminal Court found [JURIST report] British labor rights activist Andy Hall guilty of criminal defamation and violating cyber crime laws. About a week earlier the same month 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. In August Thailand passed a new constitution [JURIST report] by referendum vote, drafted by a military-appointed counsel and 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 CCA because of a report they published detailing acts of torture in Thailand. In April Human Rights Watch 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.