Govt open to political amnesty

Govt open to political amnesty

A suggestion to grant an amnesty to political offenders in the colour-coded conflicts "might warrant serious attention if it is properly submitted to the government", Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam says.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, said the issue had not been brought to his attention.

The amnesty has been proposed by Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn who argued it would forge national reconciliation and stem far-reaching divisions aggravated by years of colour-coded conflicts.

Mr Wissanu, who is the deputy premier in charge of legal affairs, said a similar amnesty was sought on several occasions in the past although it never came to fruition.

The Kamnoon-proposed amnesty needed a careful study. "An amnesty is a sensitive issue. If it was extended to one group but not the others, it would widen the conflict rather than resolve it," the deputy prime minister said.

Mr Wissanu said the latest proposal was still floating in the air. However, if it was submitted to the government properly in both form and substance, it would likely be looked at in detail.

Mr Kamnoon said the key to dismantling the political and social divides was for offenders charged for instigating political unrest and protests to be forgiven under the law.

His proposal calls for an amnesty law to be enacted to absolve offences which occurred as a result of political protests in the past 15 years. The beneficiaries would be everyone "no matter what political shirts they wear".

However, the law would not cover people who escaped the legal proceedings or were charged with corruption or other felonies. To qualify for coverage, they need to go through the justice system. He added the term "political protest" might need to be redefined by a dedicated committee.

Opposition chief whip Sutin Klungsang said the government must lead the way in pushing for the amnesty to prove it is sincere in reconciling conflicts.

"The opposition is ready to support the proposed amnesty for everyone wearing red or yellow shirts. We're Thais after all," he said.

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