Junta’s lawmakers approve bill protecting Constitutional Court from criticisms

The junta’s lawmakers have given the green light to a controversial bill which gives more power and protection to the Constitutional Court.  

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on 23 November 2017 voted 188 in favour, none against and 5 abstentions, to pass the third reading of the draft Organic Law on the Procedures of the Constitutional Court, which was drafted by the Constitution Drafting Committee and submitted to the NLA in September.

According to Somkit Lertpaithoon, Chair of the NLA Select Committee, the new law gives more authority to the Constitutional Court to take temporary measures to prevent damage and violence when claimants given sufficient reasons for the court to make a ruling.

Under the law, the Constitutional Court can order other public agencies to follow its orders provided that half of the members of the House of Representatives approve the measure.

The Organic Law also allows current members of the Constitutional Court judges to retain their posts even if they do not meet the qualifications under the 2017 Constitution.

According to iLaw, a human rights advocacy group, Article 39 of the bill also sets out a penalty of up to one month in prison, or a 50,000 baht fine, or both, for anyone who makes ill-intentioned criticisms of the Constitutional Court, including those who post criticisms online.

Banjerd Singkaneti, a committee member in favour of the bill, said giving the Constitutional Court such authority is necessary in order to effectively protect the rights of the people.

Udom Ratamarit, a minority member of the select committee, warned that the bill gives the Constitutional Court too much power, which could lead to a political crisis if the court intervenes in politics.