Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's integrity and assets could be restored through another legal process without the need to enter a trade-off with an unconstitutional amnesty procedure, the Nitirat Group said on Thursday.
Worachet Pakeerut, left, suggests the parliament set up a new committee to reconsider the second reading of the amnesty bill. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Worachet Pakeerut, a core leader of the Thammasat University's Enlightened Jurists Group, or Nitirat, said the group was not proposing an amnesty for the former premier. Instead it was suggesting that post-coup legal actions, including Thaksin's assets seizures following rulings by the now-defunct Asset Scrutiny Committee and other trials initiated after the coup, should be annulled.
Nitirat has emerged as a fourth pressure group after previously supporting the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the Yingluck Shinawatra administration. It has now formulated a clear stance in opposition to the party's efforts to transform the protester-only amnesty bill - tabled by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hemma - into a wholesale amnesty.
Relatives and survivors from the April-May 2010 crackdown, some core members of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and progressive red-shirt splinter groups led by Red Sunday have expressed strong opposition to Pheu Thai's move to pass the wholesale amnesty.
Mr Worachet suggested Pheu Thai could still save face by voting down the current vetting process and re-process in a constitutional manner by setting up a full-parliament subcommittee to vet, article by article, Worachai's amnesty bill which was approved by the parliament's first reading.
He said Pheu Thai's intention to exempt those charged under Penal Code Article 112 from the amnesty bill was in contrast with the people's principles.
"The amnesty is to deal with types of offences that were related to or affected by the political conflicts since the coup. So how do the lawmakers know at this stage whether the 112-charged inmates are from political conflicts?" the Thammasat associate law professor said.
He said restoring justice to those whose rights and assets were stripped by the coup needed a decent means, not short-cut and unconstitutional efforts.
Thaksin, said Mr Worachet, should be given back his assets and if there are to be any corruption charges, they must be re-processed later under normal law, not the coup-initiated mechanisms.
Piyabut Saengkanokkul, another Nitirat member, said changing the original version with a specific timespan for amnesty from Sept 19, 2006-May 2007 to 2004-Aug 8, 2013 might open room for unnecessary interpretation to include any crackdown by the authorities.
Senator Kamnoon Sittisaman earlier suggested that the expansion of the amnesty timeframe might include the military crackdown in the Krue Se and Tak Bai incidents.
Mr Piyabut also ridiculed some Pheu Thai and pro-Thaksin supporters for suggesting that the new version of the amnesty bill could pave way for the efforts to bring Abhisit-Suthep to the justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Thailand was not yet an ICC signatory and the Thai foreign minister has not announced ICC jurisdiction over a particular case, so what was the point of an amendment to the amnesty bill to confuse red-shirt supporters.
Sawatri Suksri, another Nitirat member, said the changed version would not bring about justice but instead reassert conventional tenets that the authorities, either those giving the orders or the executors, could continue with impunity.
Ms Sawatri was referring to the Nitirat proposals since January that a new charter, rather than a new amnesty bill, could annul the post-coup legal consequences.
"It is a quicker and less cumbersome procedure with a charter-rewrite, but it requires the political will of the majority," said Ms Sawatri.
Mr Worachet said the Worachai bill, not the changed version, would still help to secure the release of the red-shirt prisoners.