THAILAND: Four months’ martial law, emergency rule denounced

(Hong Kong, January 19, 2007) Martial law and emergency regulations should be lifted from Thailand without further delay, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said in an appeal issued on Friday.

In the appeal, marking the fourth month after the army seized power Hong Kong-based regional rights group said that the extension of martial law and emergency regulations over the south “do nothing other than to exacerbate human rights abuses and hinder… the rule of law” there.

The group called for General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the head of the junta that took power on September 19, to relinquish his control, which it said was “a grave disservice” to Thailand and the region.

“Allow for a return to genuine civilian government that can pave the way for genuine constitutional rule, not some fraud perpetrated under your regime,” the AHRC said in its letter to the general, alluding to the constitution-drafting process going on with the management of the armed forces.

The AHRC quoted a speech by Thailand’s UN ambassador last September that martial law would be lifted quickly as an example of the “many inventions and untruths” that had followed the coup group into power.

It pointed out that the whole of the country had been led to believe in November that martial law had been lifted from more than half of its territory, but in January it was revealed that the King had never signed the order to complete the process.

The continued use of the emergency decree in the south was ironic, given that the decree was “signed and championed by former prime minister Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra”, whose policies have been denigrated by the military regime.

“The decree did nothing to solve the problems in the south under the former government and it will do nothing other than contribute to more violence under yours also,” the AHRC told General Sonthi.

“That this is so has been established by all fair and independent-minded persons and organisations who have examined the law and its consequences, including the National Reconciliation Commission, whose findings on the south you once commended, and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, who has likened the decree to a licence to kill,” it added.

In the appeal the AHRC also expressed grave concerns over restrictions on the media and rights of assembly, and the reorganising of administration under military control.

“Having accused the former government of nepotism and corruption, [the regime] has now behaved identically by promoting and appointing its own supporters to positions of authority, awarding itself big salaries and allocating huge resources for its own objectives,” it said.

The AHRC described the reorganisation of government agencies under army control as “a reversion to an anti-rule-of-law model of the state that existed decades ago in Thailand” running “contrary to the principles that underpin the 1997 Constitution, which the military has purported to be reforming while in fact destroying it”.
In December the AHRC critiqued the September 19 coup under a chapter on Thailand in its annual human rights report.?

The report is available online at:

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PL-005-2007
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : State of emergency & martial law,