Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thailand Martial Law Lifted - But Really ?


In the ironic fashion on April's Fool day, Thailand's authoritarian regime declares the lifting of century-old martial law put in place since 20 May 2014, and replaces it with what is essentially another set of martial law. 

The new enactment, Order no. 3/2558 (see summary below), provides sweeping power to military officers and makes no changes regarding jurisdiction of military courts, which means the existing NCPO orders would continue to apply and the Thai military court can still try and prosecute civilians.

Thailand's return to democracy remains uncertain as the junta retains tight grip amid the unending climate of fear. Martial law may be lifted today, but Thailand remains deeply sunk in unchecked military rule. 


Head of National Council for Peace and Security (NCPO) Order no. 3/2558

Key summary 

The order designates and provides authorities to “Security Maintenance Officers” (SMOs) who are exclusively ranking military officers appointed by the NCPO.

The SMOs have jurisdictions over crimes relating to national security as defined by the Criminal Code, including Section 112 (lese majesté), and also broadly extends to all violations of orders and declarations of the NCPO.

The SMOs are given broad powers to summon, arrest, detain, assist or jointly investigate with the police, conduct searches, and seize properties. The SMOs also has a blanket authority to carry out any orders given by the NCPO.

The SMOs have the power to order the suppression of news reporting or distribution of media content or any information which may cause public fear or misunderstanding and deemed to be affecting national security, and such power may be subject to the conditions set by the NCPO.

The SMOs may detain a suspect for up to seven days and such place of detention shall not be police station, detention centers or prisons. In case of suspects who may have violated NCPO orders, such suspects may be released and may also be subject to conditions such as ban from travel abroad or suspension of financial transactions.

Persons who violate or resist the authority of SMOs or their assistance to summon, suppress information or detain suspects may face imprisonment of up to one year and may be fined up to 20,000 Baht or both.

Persons who join an unauthorized political gathering of more than five may be imprisoned for up to six months or fined up to 10,000 Baht or both. However those persons who voluntarily agree to receive training sessions by SMOs which can last up to 7 days may be released with or without conditions, subject to satisfaction by SMOs, and such crime may be considered ceded.

The authority exercised under this order is not subject to administrative procedural law and administrative judicial review.  

The SMOs and their assistance also enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution as long as their actions are carried out in good faith, non-discriminate and proportional manner.

Original Text

Verapat Pariyawong is a Visiting Scholar at SOAS, University of London. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Verapat speaks to the BBC on Thailand's Politics

Verapat Pariyawong interviewed by BBC World News on Thai politics following the impeachment of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

Impact, BBC World News TV 23 January 2015


For further background and comments by Verapat Pariyawong please see: