Thailand: Imposition of martial law is unnecessary, disproportionate, and illegal
Paris, Bangkok, 20 May 2014 - The Thai Army’s imposition of martial law is an unnecessary, disproportionate, and illegal measure that pushes Thailand further away from a political solution to the ongoing turmoil, FIDH and its member organization Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) said today.
The two organizations urged the immediate lifting of martial law and reiterated their call for all branches of the military to maintain their neutrality and act within Thailand’s constitutional framework.
“There is no plausible justification for imposing an oppressive, 100-year-old law, on the entire country because of street protests that have been mainly confined to the capital,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “The Thai Army’s decision is ill-conceived. Military intervention into Thailand’s politics has rarely ushered in periods of peace and stability. Similarly, the use of emergency and security laws, such as martial law, has often failed to prevent unrest,” Mr. Lahidji added.
“The Thai Army’s imposition of martial law lacks any legal basis. Martial law can be imposed only by Royal Proclamation, not by the military’s unilateral declaration,” said UCL Chairman Jaturong Boonyarattanasoontorn. “Thailand’s military has a long history of coup d’états and tearing up Constitutions. It is deeply troubling that, yet again, the army shows utter disregard for the rule of law in the name of national security,” he added.
The nationwide martial law went into effect on 20 May at 3am. The law gives the military broad-ranging powers to maintain public order. It empowers the military to: ban public gatherings; censor publications and media reports; prohibit radio and TV broadcasts; and arrest and detain suspects without a warrant for up to seven days.
As a result of the imposition of martial law, the government’s Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) has been replaced with the military-controlled Peace-Keeping Command Center (PKCC). The PKCC is tasked with enforcement of martial law and oversees all security operations in the entire country. Citing provisions of the martial law, the PKCC promptly shut down 10 satellite TV stations and various community radio stations affiliated with both sides of the ongoing political conflict. The army also deployed troops at key intersections and TV stations in Bangkok.
FIDH and UCL call on the international community to condemn the Thai Army’s imposition of martial law.