Critics slam blanket amnesty bill

An amnesty bill proposed by the Independent Committee for Promotion of the Rule of Law has been criticised for its "wholesale" approach to pardoning political offenders.

Nicha: Seeking to uncover the truth

Democrat Party-list MP Chamni Sakdiset criticised the bill, which was put forward by committee chairman Ukrit Mongkolnavin earlier this year, during an amnesty seminar at parliament yesterday.

He said the bill sought to "grant a blanket amnesty that ignored the complexities" of the situation.

The bill would grant amnesty to protesters who took part in political rallies from Sept 19, 2006 to May 10, 2011.

The amnesty would not include protest leaders and law enforcement authorities.

But the bill needs to be revised, Mr Chamni said, or else it would be met with resistance when presented to parliament.

He said the wholesale amnesty was not selective about the parties that stand to benefit from it. Although it would not cover protest leaders, the range of the amnesty is too broad.

Most participants at yesterday's seminar said they favoured the recommendations put forward in a report on the 2010 political violence issued by the now-defunct Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Nicha Hirunburana Thuwatham, the widow of Gen Romklao Thuwatham - an army officer killed during the 2010 unrest - said reconciliation must begin by finding the truth before the judicial process can take its course.

This should be followed by compensating damaged parties. An amnesty can only come after this has occurred, she said. She said the government had declared reconciliation as part of the national agenda, but had failed to implement the TRC recommendations that were presented to the government in September.

Mrs Nicha stressed that an amnesty should be granted to those who did not commit criminal and lese majeste offences during political protests.

But she said an amnesty would never be possible as long as the truth behind the 2010 unrest remains hidden.

Banjerd Singkhaneti, dean of the Graduate School of Law at the National Institute of Development Administration, said the five-year amnesty period proposed by the Ukrit panel was too long. He said that timeframe involved many complicated incidents, making it difficult to identify who should be granted amnesty.

Mr Banjerd also backed the TRC recommendations, which stress the need to address the root cause of hostility.

Parnthep Pourpongpan, spokesman for the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy, said his group disagreed with efforts to whitewash criminal offenders or those implicated in corruption.

He agreed with the TRC recommendation that offenders must accept the legal process.

About the author

Writer: Pradit Ruangdit
Position: Reporter