iLaw
On 25 May 2014, three days after seizing the ruling power, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued the Announcement no. 37/2557 to empower the Military Court to have jurisdiction of all offences against Articles 107-112 in Chapter about the Monarchy and Articles 113-118 about national security of the Penal Code and all other breaches of Orders and Announcements issued by the NCPO which take place when the Announcement is effective.
 
That the Military Court is designated to deal with cases concerning the monarchy and security is indicative to the NCPO’s effort in earnest to heavily and seriously suppress the commission of such offences and that the normal course of justice process fails to satisfy the NCPO’s need.
 
Though sharing some similarities with a civilian Court, the Military Court’s procedure is markedly different for it provides for no appeal to a court of higher instances. A one-court system, the final decision can be made by the trial court. Another concerning aspect is the independence of the judges as they all have been recruited from military personnel. Given the abnormal political situation at present, any defendants or political suspects would often feel insecure and fear the deprivation of their rights in the course of justice should they have to have their cases tried in the Military Court.
 
Offences to be tried in the Military Court must take place prior to 25 May 2014 
 
Nevertheless, the NCPO Announcement no. 37/2557 stipulates clearly that any offences to be tried by the Military Court must take place “during the time the Announcement becomes effective”, meaning after 25 May 2014 onward and until the Announcement is revoked. Any offences that has taken place and has been completed prior to 25 May 2014, regardless of which categories they are, shall be tried in a normal civilian court.  
 
This is consistent with a principle of criminal law whereby an emphasis is placed on the date the commission of the offence takes place. No ex-post facto laws or no laws can be promulgated later to criminalize any act that has taken place prior to the existence of the law and in this case any offences that have taken place prior to the designated time shall not be tried by the Military Court.
 
The interpretation applies in the case against Weerayuth, an anti-coup activist, who is charged with breaching the prohibition against the assembly of five people upwards invoking the NCPO Announcement no. 7/2557. Since his action took place on 23 May 2014, prior to the issuance of the NCPO Announcement no. 37/2557, his case was therefore tried in the Pathumwan Municipal Court, a civilian court and he was convicted to one month of imprisonment with probation. 
 
Another similar case is Yutthasak, a taxi driver, who was reported by his passenger for violating Article 112. The offence took place on 28 January 2014, prior to the issuance of the Announcement no. 37/2557, and therefore his case was tried in the Criminal Court, a civilian court and he was convicted to two-year-and-six-month-imprisonment.  
 
The Article 112 case against Tom Dundee has already been indicted in the Military Court 
 
After the coup, the number of Article 112 cases has spiked. At least 14 persons have been arrested and held in custody and two other ongoing cases have been rushed in haste. One of them, Samak, has been held in custody by the order of the Military Court. He was accused of defacing a portrait of His Majesty the King in Chiang Rai Province. The incidence took place on 9 July 2014 and therefore falls under jurisdiction of the Military Court as per the Announcement no. 37/2557.
 
The inquiry officials have so far sought permission from a civilian court to hold all suspects in other cases in custody during the pretrial since the offences have been committed prior to the coup, except the case against Thanat, aka “Tom Dundee” who was accused of making a speech in violation of Article 112. The speech or the act took place since November 2013, but in June 2014, a video clip of his speech was uploaded to youtube. The officials determined that the act committed by Tom Dundee took place after 25 May 2014, or after the Announcement no. 37/2557 has become effective. Therefore, permission has been sought from the Military Court to hold him in custody and his lawyer has submitted an objection motion to the Military Court already.  
 
Slowly, ongoing Article 112 cases in civilian court are being transferred to the Military Court.
 
For example, an anonymous man has been reported for posting online messages prior to the coup. He was arrested on 25 May 2014, the same day the Announcement no. 37/2557 was issued. Therefore, it would not be possible that he would have committed his crime after the Announcement became effective. And prior to that, the permission to hold him in custody had been sought from the Criminal Court. And by granting an extension of his custody, the Court affirmed its jurisdiction over the case. But on 19 August 2014, closer to the date the indictment has to be made, he was brought to the Military Court as the officials were now seeking permission from the Military Court to extend his custody. It was later reported that the civilian public prosecutor decided to not take this case anymore and he deemed the case does not fall under jurisdiction of a civilian court. As a result, the inquiry officials have to change their course of action and now sought permission from the Military Court to hold the man in custody as well as are preparing case file for indictment to be submitted by the judge advocate to the Military Court.  
 
Later on 22 August 2014, Kathawuth who has been reported as a result of his internet radio clips was brought to the Military Court, even though the clips were produced and broadcast before 25 May 2014 and previously, the officials had always sought for permission from the Criminal Court to extend his pretrial custody. And by granting the extension of his custody, the Court affirmed its jurisdiction over the case. Then, closer to the date the indictment has to be made, he was brought to the Military Court as the officials were now seeking permission from the Military Court to extend his custody, similarly to the case of the anonymous man. The inquiry officials claimed the public prosecutors decided to not take this case citing that it was not under jurisdiction of a civilian court, but a military court.
 
This anonymous man and Kathawuth applied for bail with the Military Court to no avail. The Court claimed that while the bail was submitted, the inquiry officials were present in the courtroom and that the inquiry officials have indicated their objection to the bail citing high penalty rate of the charges. In addition, the Court claimed that after reviewing circumstances around the cases, it was deemed that a temporary release would become an obstacle or would disrupt the investigation or would lead to the tampering with evidence.  
 
And then on 22 August 2014, it was reported that the anonymous man has already been indicted with the Military Court, and during the indictment, he was not brought from the prison to appear in the Court, different from the process conducted in a civilian court.  
 
It is now interpreted that by posting an online message, one remains culpable to legal action forever
 
In the custody petition submitted to the Military Court in the case against Kathawuth, the inquiry officials state that “The person has been held in custody by the inquiry officials for interrogation all along and he has been brought to the Criminal Court for extending his custody for seven times already. In this case, it was found that the offences were committed from 28 March 2014 to 27 May 2014, and they had to be dealt with by invoking the National Council for Peace and Order Announcement no. 37/2557 dated 25 May 2014 regarding “Offences under Jurisdiction of the Military Court”.  
 
Basically, the officials now claim that the commission of the offences took place from 28 March 2014 to 27 May 2014 in order to time it beyond the date the Announcement was issued on 25 May 2014. The trick makes the case fall under jurisdiction of the Military Court. And by making such interpretation, it means that the culpability of online posting shall remain as long as the content is still available online. This kind of interpretation seems wrong.  
 
The commission of an offence related to online posting should be completed the moment the post appears online. And the day the posting is made should be counted as a single day during which the commission of the offence takes place and it does not matter how long the content continues to appear online since it is a subsequent result of the commission of the offence. It is impossible to interpret the continuity of the time an online posting is made and extend it to several days.  
 
If the interpretation is made correctly and the commission of the offence is regarded to have taken place only within a single day, then the offences allegedly committed by Kathawuth and the anonymous man should have taken prior to 25 May 2014 and do not fall under jurisdiction of the Military Court. It is believed that the inquiry officials in charge of the cases had been interpreting the law this way since the beginning and therefore had been seeking permission from the Criminal Court to extend their custodies. And the judges must have concurred with this interpretation and therefore have granted seven extensions of their custodies in a row.  
 
Meanwhile, civilian public prosecutors, judge advocates and judges of the Military Court deem it possible to interpret that the cases fall under jurisdiction of the Military Court.
 
 
 
 
What will happen if Article 112 cases are tried in the Military Court?
 
Should we accept the interpretation regarding the day the commission of the offence takes place and the jurisdiction of the Military Court this way, it is likely that all ongoing Article 112 cases and other cases related to online posting, which used to be adjudicated by a civilian court, will now be transferred to and tried by the Military Court.
 
As far as we know, there are at least four cases including the cases against Apichart, Chaliaw, Thanet and a student from Mahanakhon Technology College which are involved with online posting, though there will be more similar cases in the future.  
 
At present, there has been no verdict made by the Military Court to help us understand the way the hearings will be conducted, the Court’s interpretation and its conviction. It remains to be seen if the Military Court will adopt the same approach as a civilian court in their adjudication of Article 112 cases and other cases involving political belief.  
 
Meanwhile, defendants who have found their cases transferred to the Military Court must not accept the way the law is interpreted and may feel insecure as far as the justice process is concerned. They shall be another group of people who have not been bestowed with “happiness” as yet.  
 
  • Click here for detail of Kathawuth’s case
  • Click here for detail of Yutthasak’s case 
  • Click here for detail of Weerayuth’s case
  • Click here for detail of Samak’s case
  • Click here for detail of Tom Dundee’s case 
 
Read more...
BANGKOK, 30 September 2014: Chinese tourists are selecting Bangkok as one of the top destinations for travel during the national Golden Week holidays, 1 to 7 October. According to the third annual Chinese International Travel Monitor conducted by Hotels.Com, Chinese travellers selected four Thai cities in their top 10 favourite searches for Golden Week holidays. [...] Read more...
 
After the police last week charged and fined three anti-coup student activists with littering after they held the 2006 coup commemoration, two more student activists have been summoned to hear charges related to the event. 
 
On 25 September, Police charged Sirawith Sirathiwat, Seaksan Saisueb, and Thongdam Keawphanpruek with violating Article 10 of the Cleanliness and Order Act and fined them 1,000 baht each. 
 
There three are active members of the Thai Student Center for Democracy (TSCD). 
 
According to TSCD Facebook page, two more members of the group from Chulalongkorn University have been summoned to hear charges on 1 October, 9am, at the office of the Metropolitan Police Division 6, Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon District. 
 
The group expected that the two will face the same charges and fines. They also announced on its Facebook page that they will collect donation to pay for the fines in front of the police office that morning. 
 
“If the police fine us again, we don’t have enough money to pay for the fines. We hope that people will help donating for the fine,” states the TSCD.
 
On 19 September they commemorated the 2006 military coup by putting up a cloth banner on a pedestrian bridge over Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road in front of the Thairath Newspaper office where Nuamthong Praiwan, a taxi driver who drove into a military tank during the coup in 2006 later hanged himself. He committed suicide to protest against the 2006 coup. 
 
The police stated that the group should have informed the authorities before putting up the sign.
 
 
Read more...
Wimon Leangaroon's family has been making Chinese prayer cushions for over a century. Each kneeler is handmade to order, but she is concerned the skill may be lost as her family is now Bangkok's only prayer-cushion maker. (Video by Chumporn Sangvilert and Arusa Pisuthipan) Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
 
Akaradej (last name withheld due to privacy concerns) on Tuesday pleaded guilty before the Court to posting comments deemed lèse majesté on Facebook. In another case, a former Pheu Thai MP accused of defaming the monarchy during a red-shirt TV programme, pleaded not guilty and witness hearings were scheduled. 
 
The Court will read the verdict on the Akaradej case on 4 November. 
 
Akaradej is an undergraduate student from Mahanakorn University of Technology. He was accused of posting messages deemed lèse majesté on Facebook in early 2014. It was his Facebook “friend” who reported the case to Sutthisan Police Station. Police arrested him at his house in June 2014. The Court denied his bail request. He has been detained in Bangkok Remand Prison.
 
Meanwhile, on Monday, Sgt Prasit Chaisrisa, a former Pheu Thai MP, pleaded not guilty and the court scheduled the prosecution witness hearings on 20, 24, 25 February 2015 and defence witness hearings on 26 and 27 February 2015.
 
Prasit was accused of defaming the King during a TV programme called “Stop Overthrowing Democracy,” broadcast on a red-shirt satellite TV channel on 7 May 2014. A staff member of the military Judge Advocate General’s Office filed a police complaint against him. He is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison. The court has denied his request for bail. 
 
 
Read more...
BANGKOK, 29 September 2014: Tourism Authority of Thailand says  a trade monopoly of wholesale travel operators is an obstacle for Thai tourism operators to expand business in the Australian market. TAT Sydney office director, Rujiras Chatchalermkit, told Association of Thai Travel Agents’ members, through a Skype live cast, last Thursday, that the tourism business in [...] Read more...
PHUKET, 29 September 2014: Kasikorn Research Centre estimates international tourist arrivals to Phuket will reach 13 million and generate THB279 billion in revenue by year-end. The centre said although tourist arrivals were hit by political unrest, Phuket faired better than other destinations due to its direct flight links with important source markets in the Asia [...] Read more...
BANGKOK, 29 September 2014: Thailand earned a record THB1,115.67 million from on-location film shoots, January to August, according to a Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Thailand Film Office Department update released late last week. During the first eight months of the year, 384 documentaries, advertising slots, TV series, and music videos were filmed on location [...] Read more...
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
MANILA – Bangkok’s military government continues to demonstrate profound contempt for the rule of law and the dignity and rights of its citizens and should immediately repeal all laws that contravene Thailand’s international human rights obligations and hand power back to a fully elected, civilian administration, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said today.
 
APHR, a collective of elected lawmakers from across Southeast Asia working to promote access to justice and human rights, called on the international community and ASEAN government’s to take a stronger stand against the decline of human rights and the rule of law in Thailand, warning that a failure of the international community to stand up to the junta in Bangkok is being seen as a green light to other rights abusing governments in the region. This “soft” approach risks encouraging a serious backslide in democracy and the rule of law across the whole of Southeast Asia, APHR warned.
 
“Thai citizens have the right and duty under the previous Thai Constitution, the ASEAN Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to be protected from human rights violations and afforded the freedom to express their ideas; but their voices are being suppressed under a climate of fear that has been systematically and perniciously enforced by an authoritarian, military government under General Prayuth Chan-ocha,” said Walden Bello, APHR Vice President and Philippines Congressman.
 
“Indeed, it is the actions of the military administration, including its failure to respect, protect and promote human rights that should be curtailed and monitored, not the thoughts and words of students, academics and ordinary Thai citizens seeking to uphold Thailand’s long history of democratization.”
 
The Thai coup and the military regime it has imposed is in direct violation of the purpose and principals of the ASEAN Charter and ASEAN governments must take a clear stand on this or risk undermining 40 years of work on the ASEAN project and making a mockery of the 2015 ASEAN Community, APHR said.
 
Article 1 of the ASEAN Charter states that among the 15 key purpose of the regional grouping is “to maintain and enhance peace, security and stability…in the region”, and “to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms … ”.
 
“Something has gone terribly wrong in Thailand when the military illegally overthrows a democratically elected government and tears up the constitution, men and women are taken from their homes in the middle of the night and held at military camps, academics are banned from holding seminars, and people can’t freely post their thoughts and ideas on social media, and this, we are told is in the interests of democracy, the rule of law and justice: We all of us must be living in a Bizzaro World if this is accepted as anywhere close to being logical,” Mr. Bello added.
 
Since seizing power, Thailand’s military government has undertaken a systematic persecution of political opponents and has sought to silence all criticism and debate.
 
APHR strongly refutes claims made to the United Nations General Assembly by Thailand’s military-appointed foreign minister, Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn, on Saturday 27 September, that Thailand is not retreating from Democracy[i]. The military general spoke, apparently without awareness of the deep irony, of the need for “respect for the rule of law… good governance, transparency, accountability and equal access to justice.” These are the very things that the military regime and its backers in Thailand have disregarded and systematically worked to destroy and undermine for the past eight years.
 
General Tanasak was the Chief of Defense Forces of the Royal Thai Army and a member of the same military academy as Prime Minister and coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. Prayuth and Tanasak, Along with the majority of the senior military appointees of the current Thai junta, also played key roles in the coup of 2006. These, APHR argues, are very, very far from the necessary credentials to talk with any authority about democracy, justice and the rule of law.
 
The imposition of martial law coupled with sweeping crackdowns on freedom of assembly and expression and the use of arbitrary detentions and military trials of civilians since the 22 May coup have stripped the Thai people of their basic rights as guaranteed under international law. There are also serious allegations of the use of torture and other ill-treatment by Thai security forces against civilians in military detention.
 
At least 11 people have already been found guilty by military courts of violating NCPO Order No.7/2557, which prohibits public gatherings of five persons or more. Dozens more face military trials on similar charges. Military court verdicts under martial law are final and cannot be appealed; a direct contravention of the right to a fair trial.
 
Contrary to the claims of the ruling military junta, Thailand’s political crisis is in many ways a result of the disregard for the rule of law and democratic institutions and is not, as the ruling National Center for Peace and Order (NCPO) argues, a valid reason for flouting them.
 
If Gen Prayuth and his administration does not support the concepts of democracy, human rights, justice and the rule of law, then it should be forthright about it and desist from attempts to hide behind Orwellian double-speak and “national security” as justification for flagrant human rights violations, APHR said. The military government’s claims are disrespectful and deeply offensive to the many human rights defenders who have had their rights violated by this regime.
 
Thailand invoked Article 4 of the ICCPR on 20 May 2014 to derogate from its obligations to promote, protect and respect a range of rights, including those of freedom of movement, fair trial, and freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
 
The NCPO has argued that these “temporary” curbs on human rights are necessary in the face of national security threats, but they fail to meet requirements in regards to the principle of proportionality; namely regarding exigency of the rights violations in regards to the designated “threat to the nation”, and the severity, duration and scope of these restrictions. APHR also argues that these restrictions have been applied in a discriminatory manner, targeting people for their political views.
 
“Martial law is a crude and extreme tool. Thailand’s self-appointed leader, Gen Prayuth, personally responsible for overthrowing democracy, human rights, justice and the rule of law, sees fit to lecture society on how to be a good citizen, and apparently sees no irony in that,” said Charles Santiago, APHR Vice President and Malaysian MP.
 
“From the conversations we are hearing in the region, the relative silence from ASEAN and the international community on Thailand’s regression is being seen as a green light for others to ignore their international human rights obligations, increase violations and further suppress civil society and undermine the rule of law.”
 
 
Read more...
The second Pattaya Property Show unfolds this weekend, October 3-5, at the Napalai Convention Hall, Dusit Thani Pattaya. Pattaya is Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing resort, so it is naturally very important for the city and its expanding real estate industry to have its own dedicated property exhibition. In January over 1,503 buyers and investors representing 34 different countries [...] Read more...