Thai junta uses martial law arbitrarily, unnecessarily: human rights lawyers

For almost five months, the Thai military has used the draconian century-old martial law to detain anti-coup protesters and academics. Recently, however, it has also used the martial law to arrest and detain suspects without charge in cases related to general crimes and informal debts. Human rights lawyers say the military’s use of the law is arbitrary and unnecessary and contradicts the spirit of the law. 
 
In the past ten days, the military has used martial law in at least five cases to detain people and search the houses of activists. Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), a network of human rights lawyers working to assist those whose rights were deprived after the coup, issued a statement on Friday, expressing concerns over this use of martial law 
 
“The spirit of martial law is to maintain law and order in the country and [protect the country] from threats of war and riot . . . However, the current situation has no threats of war or riots. [The law is used to deal with] what people say, to which they have a right, with differences of opinion, and with the suppression of crimes which can be dealt under normal criminal law,” said the statement by the TLHR.  
 
The five latest people whose rights were violated by martial law are:
  1. Opas C. who was accused of writing messages defaming the monarchy in a mall’s restrooms. On 15 October, he was detained under martial law in a military camp before being detained at police station.
  2. Nueng Katesakul, a red shirt supporter who allegedly took part in an anti-coup protest at the Victory Monument on 28 June. On 19 October, he was arrested and detained by the military at an unknown location before being detained at a police station.
  3. Nam-ob Keawla-or, who was accused of giving loans to local people in northeastern Maha Sarakham Province at the rate of 20 per cent per day.  He was arrested on 20 October by Peace and Order Maintenance Command officers under martial law. 
  4. Pornchanok Chaiyapa, who is the girlfriend of the missing Japanese teacher Yoshinori Shimato. The police detained her on 20 October and said she will be detained for seven days without charge under martial law, while the investigators search for evidence. 
  5. Boonyuen Siritum, energy reform activist, whose house was searched by the military without any warrant or charges. The military said that under martial law, they can search any house. 
 
The TLHR urged the junta to revoke martial law in order to create good atmosphere to bring the country back on the path to democracy and to allow the people to be able to express their opinions. 
 

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