The Cabinet has approved in principle a bill on public gatherings proposed by the police.
On 6 Oct, Panithan Wattanayakorn, PM’s deputy secretary-general, said that the Cabinet had approved the bill, which had been proposed during the previous government, and forwarded it to the Council of State for vetting in detail.
Proposed by the National Police Bureau, the bill contains 12 sections.
Section 3 states that ‘in order to facilitate and maintain security for public gatherings’, organizers must report in writing to local police at least 5 days in advance, providing details including the objectives, means, place and date, duration, approximate number of participants, and names and addresses of the organizers.
Section 4 prohibits gatherings within 500 meters of royal palaces or 200 meters of hospitals, places for religious rites and schools during school time, blockading government and state enterprise offices, and carrying weapons in gatherings.
Section 5 authorizes police to order demonstrators to disperse and leave the site, provided the gathering violates the law or is likely to harm the lives and properties of demonstrators, other persons or the state.
If demonstrators do not follow the order to disperse, Section 6 allows police to use as much force as necessary in accordance with ministerial guidelines.
Section 7 allows police to seek support from the military and volunteers.
Section 8 penalizes organizers who violate Section 5 with a maximum of one month in jail or 1,000 baht fine, or both. Organizers who violate Section 6 will face a maximum of 3 years in jail or 60,000 baht fine, or both. Demonstrators who carry weapons or explosives will be punished with double the penalties provided by law.
Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano, Deputy Commander of the Metropolitan Police, said that the bill was necessary and not in violation of the people’s rights, and was for the convenience of demonstrators and to keep gatherings in order.