Historic ruling against police action
The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday ordered the Royal Thai Police Office (RTPO) to pay 24 people 100,000 baht in damages for using force to break up a protest against the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline and gas seperation plant projects in Songkhla's Chana district in 2002.
- Published: 16/01/2013 at 02:40 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Twenty-four villagers filed a lawsuit with the Songkhla Administrative Court against the RTPO and the Interior Ministry demanding compensation for damages caused by excessive use of force to disperse the protesters in violation of their right to unarmed and peaceful rally under Section 40 of the 1997 constitution.
The Songkhla Administrative Court accepted the case for consideration.
The case was considered a precedent. It was the first to have been brought by local people against government authorities and agencies demanding compensation for damage for violation of the people's right to stage a peaceful and unarmed protest as permitted by the constitution.
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred on Dec 20, 2002 on Juti Anusorn road near J.B. Hotel in Hat Yai district when local residents demonstrated ahead of a plan to submit a petition to then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was scheduled to attend a mobile cabinet meeting at the hotel on Dec 21.
The petition asked the government to reconsider the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline and Thai-Malaysian gas separation plant projects.
The police decided to use force to disperse the protesters, injuring many of them and damaging some of their cars. Some of the protesters were arrested.
On June 1, 2006, the Songkhla Administrative Court ordered the RTPO to pay the 24 protesters 10,000 baht compensation in total.
Both the RTPO and the protesters appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday altered the lower court's verdict, ordering the RTPO to pay the protesters 100,000 baht in total plus 7.5% annual interest within 30 days.
Suraida Tolee, a representative of the villagers opposed to the gas pipeline project, said she was glad the fight for their rights under the constitution was fruitful.
The Supreme Administrative Court's verdict clearly states that the police had infringed on the people's right, she said, adding that the money to be paid by the RTPO would go to a fund for the villagers' future activities.
The video clip below, uploaded to YouTube by TheAttachmentally, shows police officers using force to break up a protest in Songkhla in 2002.
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- Writer: Online Reporters
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