Thailand: End prosecution of civilians in military courts and repeal or amend Head of the NCPO and NCPO orders and announcements in line with international human rights law

Bangkok – On 22 April 2019, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) submitted recommendations to the Council of the State calling for the repeal or amendment of Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and NCPO orders and announcements in line with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations.

The ICJ was informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Council of the State had been tasked to review the necessity and relevance of announcements, orders, and acts of the NCPO and of the Head of the NCPO (HNCPO) in February 2019.

The review process is in line with Thailand’s declaration to the UN Human Rights Committee in its Follow-Up to the Concluding Observations of the Committee, submitted on 18 July and published on 10 August 2018.

In its submission to the Council of the State, the ICJ has called for the review process of HNCPO and NCPO announcements and orders to be carried out with increased public participation, openness, and transparency.

The ICJ has also made recommendations on the repeal and amendment of the following HNCPO and NCPO orders and announcements since they are clearly inconsistent with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations and the 2017 Constitution, and are neither necessary, proportionate, or relevant to the current situation:

  1. Orders that provide the military with superior powers beyond civilian authorities;
  2. Orders that allow military courts to prosecute civilians; 
  3. Orders that infringe on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, restrict media freedom and the right to information; and 
  4. Orders that infringe on community and environmental rights.

As main priorities, the ICJ has recommended that: 

  1. the exercising of law enforcement powers by military personnel to arrest and detain suspects in places not formally recognized as places of detention without judicial review should end; 
  2. all cases of civilians facing proceedings before military courts be transferred to civilian courts, and all civilians convicted of an offence in military courts be guaranteed a re-trial in civilian courts; and 
  3. all other HNCPO and NCPO orders and announcements should be repealed or amended to bring Thailand in compliance with its international human rights law obligations, and to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, opinion and assembly, and environmental rights, among others, be respected.