Junta eyes giving police more teeth

The cabinet gave the green light to the Royal Thai Police proposal to provide the Special Branch Police with the authority to carry out searches, arrests, and detention of suspects. Meanwhile, the police aim to amend the Criminal Procedure Code to allow all police units to be able to intercept private communications for better crime control. 

According to the Royal Thai government website, at its meeting on Tuesday, the Cabinet approved a proposal by the Royal Thai Police to amend the Criminal Procedure Code to grant the Special Branch Police (SBP), a special police unit responsible for national security matters, the authority to arrest, detain, and carry out searches, under court approval.

The police argued that, unlike other police units, the SBP, whose mission is to investigate crimes related to national security, does not currently have the authority to request courts to issue search and arrest warrants. This puts major restraints on the effectiveness of SBP operations.

To increase the effectiveness of SBP, the Royal Thai Police said in the proposed amendment that the SBP should have the authority equivalent to other police units in carrying out investigative procedures according to Article 60 of the 1934 Criminal Procedure Code.

This will give the SBP the authority to search, arrest, and detain suspects with prior approval from the court.  

In addition to this, the Royal Thai Police also proposed to amend and add other Articles in the Criminal Procedure Code to equip the police with more investigative tools.

These changes include Article 131/2, which will make it possible for the police to intercept the communication devices of suspects under the supervision of the court and checks and balances system, and Article 133/1 which states that if suspects are not cooperative during interrogation and investigation, the court can view the uncooperative behaviour of the suspects as negative to the case.

On 25 May, three days after the coup d’état, the junta announced that all crimes related to national security, such as lèse majesté and other crimes against the state, would be tried by the Military Court.