Public Statement against the invocation of Section 44 of the
Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014)
For immediate release on 30 March 2015
It was reported on 27 March 2015 that Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is about to invoke Section 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014) to replace the Martial Law Act B.E. 2457 (1914). The undersigned human rights organizations would like to express our concerns as follows;
- Numerous calls by various organizations have been made to demand a lift of Martial Law in order to provide for the protection of human rights and freedom of the people. Insofar, the invocation of the 1914 Martial Law Act has provided sweeping power to military officials to conduct a search, seizure, compulsory requisition, prohibition and holding a person in custody up to seven days as per Article 15bis. It has also made it impossible to have a higher court review the conviction and sentence made by the Military Court. Such aggravating predicament has resulted in the trampling of the rights and freedom of people.
- If Martial Law shall be lifted and replaced by Section 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014), it will still not solve the above problems that have been ravaging in the past several months. Instead, it will simply do away with a scant guarantee of their rights and freedom since Section 44 provides absolute powers to the Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) over the legislative, the administrative and the judiciary. The order, act or any performance in accordance with that order is deemed to be legal, constitutional and conclusive. In other word, such an act or order or any performance in accordance with that order shall not be held accountable to any agencies, even the judiciary. It will likely elicit an abuse of law and it will eventually induce irrecoverable damage to the people while the perpetrators shall enjoy impunity.
- The revocation of Martial Law should be aimed at protecting and enhancing the rights and freedom of people. And since existing laws are sufficient for the purpose of maintaining peace and order, there is no need to invoke either Martial Law or Section 44 of the Interim Constitution.
The undersigned human rights organizations urge that Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as Prime Minister and Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to review an attempt to invoke Section 44 since its use shall undermine the principle of the separation of powers, the rule of law and is a breach to international human rights obligations. It will have led to a lack of checks and balances and encourage arbitrary use of power blowing away a guarantee for rights and freedom. The impact shall be much worse than the use of Martial Law. It by no means serves the call of international community which has been demanding a lift of Martial Law.
With respect in rights and freedom of the people
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Community Resource Center (CRC)
Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)
Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)