Vague charter wording a 'time bomb'

Vague charter wording a 'time bomb'

Vague wording in the new constitution could delay the enactment of laws and prove a ticking "time bomb" for the Constitutional Court, National Human Rights Commission Chairman What Tingsamitr said yesterday.

Some of the content in the referendum-endorsed charter remains unclear, possibly requiring an interpretation that could disrupt its implementation, he told a seminar on state accountability, justice and the legislative process.

It was held to mark the 9th anniversary of the Constitutional Court.

The lack of clarity in certain parts of the charter, which was royally promulgated last month, could cause major problems for the court as it is responsible for clarifying queries related to the constitution, Mr What said.

The sections governing acts or actions that are unconstitutional, and the filing of complaints against unconstitutional acts, are among the content deemed too broadly written, he said.

Despite these challenges, the new charter makes it easier for holders of public office to lodge appeals if the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders finds them guilty of abuses of power.

Under previous constitutions, they would require new evidence to appeal. But the new legislation loosens this rule.

Such appeals will now be decided by a panel of chief justices as well as the president of the Supreme Court.

Another new requirement -- that "stakeholders" hold public hearings at every stage of initiating a new law -- could also delay the legislative process, Supreme Administrative Court vice president Worapoj Wisarutpit warned at the seminar.

He said Section 77 of the charter does not clearly define the term "stakeholders", and it may in fact be impossible to define in this context as the law affects all citizens, meaning it could include the entire population.

Another problematic word crops up in Section 160, which says cabinet ministers must be "evidently" honest to qualify, Mr Worapoj said.

He also urged the court to clarify descriptions of ethical conduct for political post-holders.

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