Thai military courts to still try some 500 civilian cases
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. –
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.