Thai mil­i­tary courts to still try some 500 civil­ian cases

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THAI­LAND’S mil­i­tary courts will still hear some 500 on­go­ing cases against civil­ians, a se­nior junta of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, a day af­ter the regime an­nounced an end to the prac­tice.

A 2014 coup ush­ered in one of the most au­to­cratic Thai gov­ern­ments in a gen­er­a­tion with gen­er­als ex­pand­ing the use of mil­i­tary courts to try more than 1000 civil­ians, es­pe­cially those crit­i­cal of their rule or the monar­chy.

But in a sur­prise move ahead of a planned visit to the United Na­tions in New York next week, army-chief­turned-prime-min­is­ter Gen­eral Prayut Chan-O-Cha said mil­i­tary courts would be phased out for civil­ians.

Rights groups cau­tiously wel­comed the or­der, which does not cover on­go­ing cases and of­fences prior to the an­nounce­ment.

“The cases that are still un­der the de­lib­er­a­tion of a mil­i­tary court will go ahead be­cause they have al­ready en­tered,” Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wis­sanu Krea-ngam said.

“There are 1500 cases in the mil­i­tary courts, of which 1000 have al­ready fin­ished and 500 re­main.”

Thai­land’s mil­i­tary courts tend to have much higher con­vic­tion rates and are far harder to ap­peal.

Some have handed down record jail terms, in­clud­ing a 30-year sen­tence for a se­ries of Face­book posts deemed crit­i­cal of the monar­chy.

The new or­der re­flects grow­ing con­fi­dence among junta lead­ers that they have suc­cess­fully curbed op­po­si­tion.

“We are con­fi­dent that the sit­u­a­tion is un­der con­trol,” said the junta’s num­ber two, Gen­eral Prawit Wong­suwan. “But if [the] sit­u­a­tion is out of con­trol we can reim­pose this or­der.”

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion of Ju­rists said the move was a “wel­come step” but called for all cases to be trans­ferred to civil­ian courts. –

Photo: AFP

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte holds up photographs, while cit­ing ac­counts of US troops killing Mus­lims dur­ing the US oc­cu­pa­tion of the Philip­pines in the early 1900s, at the Mala­canang palace in Manila on Septem­ber 12.

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