Human rights NGOs opposing extension of declaration of Emergency Situation

A group of human rights NGOs and activists have opposed the government's extension of the imposition of the Emergency Decree.

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In pursuant to the declaration of a serious emergency situation by the virtue of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) covering Bangkok and metropolitan which has been made since 7 April 2010. And since 13-16 May 2010, the declaration of a serious emergency situation has been extended to cover 24 provinces in the Central Plain, North, and Northeast including the provinces of  Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathumthani, Nakon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chonburi, Chiangmai, Chiangrai, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan, Nan, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Rachasima, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Mahasarakham, Roi-Et, Nongbua Lamphu, Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin, and Mukdahan. The declaration of a serious emergency situation for the first time since 7 April 2010 is due to end on 6 July 2010. A three-month extension has to be sought from a resolution of the cabinet to extend the imposition of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005).

The undersigned organizations and individuals are opposed to the extension of the declaration of Emergency Situation with the following reasons;

1. The declaration of a serious emergency situation must be treated as a special and interim measure and be made effective for the duration under which the nation’s life is being threatened. Such a situation has to be characterized by a public disorder with which ordinary measures may not be sufficient to cope and control. At present, the intense situation has been relieved and the government is able to restore public order.  Therefore, it is no longer necessary for the government to continue imposing the serious emergency situation.

2. Since the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) has become effective, the government has resorted to special power provided for by the Decree to impose restrictions on the right and liberty of people to express their views and political belief. The right to peaceful assembly and organizing activity showing different views to that of the government has also been abrogated. A ban has been put in place to prevent and cut off communication, to shut down TV, radio, press and online communications making people unable to access the information. The restrictions have virtually been imposed recklessly and look set to increase.

3. It appears that several hundreds people have been held in custody simply because they have acted against the notifications or orders issued by the virtue of the Emergency Decree which bans assemblies, requires people to leave the rally sites and prevents people from leaving their residences. Without any criminal charges being pressed against them, the detainees have been held in custody due to their expressing of their different political views. According to the Decree, if the authorities simply suspect they are involved with or will participate in the commission of a serious situation, their detention can be extended to up to 30 days without the need to acquire solid evidence to prove the suspicion.

4. It has been proven that the invoking of the Emergency Decree, apart from infringing on the right to freedom of expression, has also led to deprivation of their access and rights in the justice process. It is deemed that the law has been executed incompatible with the principles to guarantee the right and liberty provided for in the Constitution, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by which Thailand has to abide.

5. In addition, Section 16 of the Emergency Decree makes an exemption to seek remedies from the administrative jurisdiction. As a result, the acts by competent officials under this Decree shall not be subject to the review of the Administrative Court. Though litigation is possible through the Court of Justice, it has to be made on a case by case basis. Therefore, the right to seek judicial review of the Administrative Court over the regulations issued by the virtue of the Emergency Decree is abrogated and this gives rise to a breach of the principles of checks and balances and separation of power.

Therefore, the declaration of the serious emergency situation by the virtue of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) shall become a major stumbling block to efforts to bring about reconciliation and to draw on cooperation from people to reform the nation which will eventually restore peace and order in society.

We urge you to revoke the declaration of the serious emergency situation by the virtue of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) in all areas in order to protect the right and liberty of people and uphold the rule of law and the rule of state which are essential values for a democratic rule.

HR and Legal Assistance Centre for those affected by Political Turmoil (HLAC)

Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)

Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF)

Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)

Campaign Committee for Human Rights

Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants Project

Thitinop Komilnimit (Deep South Watch)

Kleepladawan Seupsakulchur

Montri Achariyasakulchai

Krisada Khunnarong

Puttinee Kopattana

Laophank Banditterdsakul

Somsakul Srimaeteekul

Nicha Rakpanitchamanee

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