Thailand’s Martial Law May Be Lifted Soon But Groups Express Concern

BANGKOK – Thailand’s martial law, which was imposed since May 2014 to control violent street protests in the capital, may be lifted soon, but several groups have expressed concerns.

Thailand Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said he has already sought the endorsement from Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej for the lifting of the military rule 10 months after he staged a coup.

Prayuth, the former army commander who led the May 22, 2014, coup that overthrew an elected government, told reporters Tuesday that he is seeking King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s approval to revoke martial law. The monarch’s approval is considered a formality.

Once the lifting of martial law was endorsed, it would be replaced with the provision of Article 44 of the Interim Charter, he told reporters after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting in Bangkok last Tuesday.

Although martial law will be lifted soon, human rights groups, lawyers, political parties and scholars said Article 44 gives the Prime Minister unchecked authority over all three branches of Thailand’s government

Article 44 empowers the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) leader to issue any order “for the sake of the reforms in any field, the promotion of love and harmony amongst the people in the nation, or the prevention, abatement or suppression of any act detrimental to national order or security, royal throne, national economy or public administration, whether the act occurs inside or outside the kingdom”.

Those orders or actions, as well as their observance, shall be deemed lawful, constitutional and final.

Prayuth is the NCPO head.

The Geneva-based rights group, the International Commission of Jurists, expressed strong reservations about Article 44, saying Article 44 violates the fundamental pillars of the rule of law and human rights, including equality, accountability and predictability.

Prayuth, however, said he will use Article 44 to solve security issues.

“If you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s no need to be afraid,” he told reporters. – BusinessNewsAsia.com

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