Civilian trial in military courts

สถิติศาลทหาร-02-eng

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After the coup d’état in 22 May 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order had issued the NCPO announcement No. 37/2014 about offences under the jurisdiction of military courts, announcement No. 38/2014 about offences consisted of several connected acts under the jurisdiction of military courts, and announcement No. 50/2014 about weapons of war trial under the jurisdiction of military courts. These announcements included some offence to the power of military courts:

  1. Offence against the king, queen, heir-apparent, or regent, Article 107 – 112 of Criminal Code law.
  2. Offence against internal national security, Article 113 – 118 of Criminal Code.1
  3. Offences against the announcements of NCPO
  4. Usage or possession of firearm, ammunitions, or explosives that the registrar cannot issue permission, an offence against the Act Controlling Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation of Firearms 1947, committed from 22 May 2014 onward.2
  5. Cases consisted of several acts related to offences under the jurisdiction of military courts 1.-4.

Moreover, the NCPO declared martial law nationwide from 22 May 2014 to 31 March 2015, and cases committed during that time cannot be appealed even after the martial law was cancelled.3

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has been following human right situations after the 2014 coup. Information from The Judge Advocate General’s Department indicates that from 22 May 2014 – 30 September 2015, there are 1408 civilian cases tried in Military Courts, with 1629 accused and defendants. Bangkok Military Court has the highest number of civilians on trial with 208 accused and defendants. Military Circle Courts with more than 100 civilians on trial are the 23th Military Circle Court (Khon Kaen) 158 civilians, the 32th Military Circle Court (Lampang) 158 civilians, and the 42th Military Circle Court (Songkla) 115 civilians.

To sort by offence category, Military Circle Courts and Military Provincial Courts from 22 May 2014 – 30 June 2015 hold in total 959 cases, with 1111 accused and defendants;

Types of offences

Number of accused and defendants

Defying or disobeying the NCPO orders

6

Offences against Article 116 of Criminal Code

2

Offences against the Act Controlling Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation of Firearms 1947

944

Offences against Article 112 of Criminal Code

7

Bangkok Military Court from 22 May 2014 – 30 September 2015 accepted in total 128 cases (from 192 cases),

Types of offences

Number of cases

Defying or disobeying the NCPO orders

21

Offences against Computer Crime Act 2007

4

Offences against the Act Controlling Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation of Firearms 1947

76

Offences against Article 112 of Criminal Code

27

Note that in both Bangkok and other area, the offence most brought to the trial in Military Courts is offence against the Act Controlling Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation of Firearms 1947, which could lead to offence against life and body that the heaviest sentence is capital punishment. Thousands of accused and offenders in this category means not only political cases are tried in the Military Courts, but also common criminal offences.

By its subordination and structure, the Military Court lacks independence and impartiality. The trial in which only one out of three judges has a degree in Law and cases committed during the martial law not being allowed to appeal mean that civilian cannot have their rights and liberties guaranteed.

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1 Except offences committed within the area under the Internal Security Act 2008 or Emergency Decree on Public Administration in State of Emergency 2005

2 Except offences committed within the area under the Internal Security Act 2008 and Emergency Decree on Public Administration in State of Emergency 2005

3 Article 36 paragraph 2 of the Military Court Act 1955 “Upon the end of the battle or war or the abrogation of the martial law, the military courts shall remain able to try and adjudicate the remaining court cases or the cases pending prosecution. However, the persons authorized to appoint judges or the Minister of Defense shall have the power to order transfer of the cases or the alleged offenders for trial and adjudication at other military courts and thus such courts shall have the powers and duties of the military courts in abnormal times.”

 

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