Groups slam draft law to curtail public protests, non-profit groups

Groups slam draft law to curtail public protests, non-profit groups

Protesters converge in front of the UN's Bangkok headquarters on Monday to rally against the government's efforts to implement laws to control public gatherings. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Protesters converge in front of the UN's Bangkok headquarters on Monday to rally against the government's efforts to implement laws to control public gatherings. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

A group of non-profit organisations on Monday staged a protest in front of the UN's Bangkok headquarters against government efforts to implement a public gathering control law.

The draft law would also give the government more power over non-profit organisations (NPO).

The group said the government should scrap what is a draft law that they said would be used as a weapon to curtail people's freedom of expression which is protected under the constitution.

The protest was made on the same day that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered remarks to open the 78th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap).

Previously, the group submitted a letter to Gen Prayut and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Security, demanding the abolishing of the draft, which the cabinet on Jan 4 approved in principle for a law to control public gatherings and to monitor financial movements of NPOs.

Lertsak Kumkongsak, a coordinator of the People's Movement against the Draft Laws that Undermine Freedom of Association, said that the group is ready to elevate their protest if the government is reluctant to follow the group's request, adding that they will move to Government House to apply further pressure.

"The government should not consider the bill of the Operations of Not-for-Profit Organisation that's expected to be delivered to cabinet this week," Mr Lertsak said.

The group also submitted an open letter to Escap, asking the commission to call on the government to scrap the draft as it violates the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression of NPOs. The letter said the law would enable officials to unilaterally order the temporary or permanent shutdown of any NPO operating in Thailand if they conduct activities or make public representations that the government considers affects the relations between countries, causing divisions within society or having an impact on the government's security.



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