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Public Statement Opposing the Declaration of Martial Law in Thailand

      For Immediate Release 20 MAY 2014*

 

     

        *Public Statement Opposing the Declaration of Martial Law*

     

       

          General Prayuth Chan-ocha has invoked the 1914 Martial Law Act and issued

       

          the Royal Thai Army Notifications no. 1/2557 and 2/2557 early morning of 20May

       

          2014 in order to restore peace and order and to deal with mass

       

          demonstrations, after which all government agencies have been instructed to

       

          follow the command of the Peacekeeping Command Directorate (PCD).

       

         

            The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), and other undersigned

         

            organizations are opposed to the imposition of Martial Law with the

         

            following reasons;

         

           

              1. The Martial Law Act provides for sweeping and draconian power to

           

              restrict personal rights and freedom. Its imposition must be necessitated

           

              by the need to maintain order in wartime or riot during which time no other

           

              recourse could be sought to deal with the situations. But the current

           

              violent situation can still be managed by existing applicable laws should

           

              the government and state officials perform their duties effectively as

           

              provided for by law to contain the demonstrations and to ensure public

           

              safety. The incumbent situation provides for no valid ground based on which

           

              Martial Law can be imposed.

           

             

                2. Amidst schisms of groups of people, as an administrative organ of the

             

                government, the RTA has to hinge on the principle of non-intervention and

             

                refrains from meddling with the administration of a civilian and democratic

             

                government. Any form of intervention could be construed as a form of coups

             

                d’etat and is in breach of the laws which can be invoked to put an end to a

             

                violent situation and violates democratic principles.

             

               

                  3. The imposition of Martial Law increases power of the army to conduct the

               

                  arrest, search and seizure without any liability as a result of their

               

                  performing their duties provided for by Martial Law. Therefore, the

               

                  officials shall have the power to bar any demonstration causing deprivation

               

                  of the right to mobility of a person as provided for by Article 34 of the

               

                  Constitution, restricting the right to freedom of assembly as provided for

               

                  by Article 63, the right to justice process provided for by Article 40 and

               

                  intervening the operation of media which is tantamount to a violation of

               

                  access to information by people as provided for by Articles 45, 46 and 56. It

               

                  could have brought about deprivation of the right, freedom and human

               

                  dignity of a person and sovereign power according to the Constitution. It

               

                  may simply exacerbate the situation contrary to the intent of the law which

               

                  means to resolve a situation. Lessons should be learned from the imposition

               

                  of Martial Law to solve violent conflicts in the Southern Border Provinces

               

                 

                    4. Even though Martial Law provides the authorities and their officials

                 

                    with sweeping power to make any notification and to stop a person from

                 

                    doing anything, but users of the law have to bear in mind that the law was

                 

                    first enacted during the Absolute Monarchy during which time people’s

                 

                    rights and freedom were completely disregarded. Though the law is still

                 

                    applicable, its use has to abide by the Constitution. Therefore, the

                 

                    exercise of the rights and freedom as provided for by the Constitution has

                 

                    still be protected and state agencies are obliged to enforce the law in

                 

                    light of Article 27 of the Constitution. The military is not allowed to

                 

                    exercise its power more than necessary as it may have infringed on the

                 

                    fundamental rights and freedom of people. Moreover, according to the

                 

                    1996Tortious Liability of Officials Act, any official and authorities

                 

                    can still

                 

                    be held liable for any damage incurred from their enforcement of Martial

                 

                    Law.

                 

                   

                      Given the above reasons, the undersigned organizations deem that the

                   

                      imposition of Martial Law shall not help to solve the situation and to

                   

                      garner trust in society, the elements of which are essential for restoring

                   

                      peace and order in society. A solution has to be forged by sincerity and

                   

                      mutual trust among all conflicting parties which are determined to solve

                   

                      the problems through political venues and public participation. Therefore,

                   

                      it is necessary that the RTA remains impartial and hinges on the rule of

                   

                      law and democratic principles and it is urged to revoke the imposition of

                   

                      Martial Law immediately.

                   

                     

                       

                         

                            With respect in human rights and human dignity

                         

                           

                              Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)

                           

                             

                                Union Civil for Liberty of Thailand (UCL)

                             

                               

                                  Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)

                               

                                 

                                    ENLAWTHAI Foundation

                                 

                                   

                                      Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)

                                   

                                     

                                     

                                        สมาคมนักกฎหมายสิทธิมนุษยชน (สนส.)

                                     

                                        โทรศัพท์ /แฟ๊กซ์ : 02-6930682

                                     

                                        อีเมล์ :

                                    [email protected]
                                    www.naksit.org

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