The Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled by a majority that an executive decree postponing the enforcement of key provisions of the law against torture and enforced disappearance was unconstitutional.
In its 8:1 ruling, the court said the decree, which sought to postpone the enforcement of Sections 22–25 of the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act until Oct 1 this year, violated Section 172 of the constitution.
The ruling was sought by a group of 100 former MPs in late February via the House speaker following concerns that the decree postponing the four sections could fall foul of the charter.
The Act was published in the Royal Gazette on Oct 25 last year and was set to take effect on Feb 22 -- after more than 14 years of campaigning. It was hailed as a milestone in combating torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearances in the country.
However, the Royal Thai Police (RTP) submitted a petition to the Ministry of Justice urging it to defer enforcing the law so as to allow police and related state agencies more time to prepare for its enforcement.
The RTP cited a lack of equipment, skills and standard guidelines as the reason for their petition while further claiming that enforcement of the law under current circumstances would cause more harm.
The cabinet issued the executive decree on Feb 19 this year to delay enforcement of the four provisions, sparking an outcry from human rights groups.
When a special House meeting was held to deliberate the decree, the session was cut short as government MPs decided to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on its validity.
Opposition MPs who vowed to vote against the decree slammed coalition MPs for the move, saying it was a tactic to avoid the bill being voted down.
During the debate, several government and opposition MPs voiced their disagreement with the delayed enforcement because the authorities concerned had been given four months to prepare after the law was passed by the House.