Varawut outlines party's amnesty stance

Varawut outlines party's amnesty stance

Chartthaipattana leader opposes freeing those convicted of lese-majeste, urges coalition to agree on a bill

Social Development and Human Security Minister Varawut Silpa-archa arrives at Government House for a weekly cabinet meeting last month. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Social Development and Human Security Minister Varawut Silpa-archa arrives at Government House for a weekly cabinet meeting last month. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Chartthaipattana Party leader Varawut Silpa-archa on Thursday affirmed the party’s stance against any attempts to include lese-majeste and serious criminal offences in a new amnesty bill.

He also urged the coalition government to work better together to draft its own version of the bill to submit to the House of Representatives, together with a version already proposed by the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP).

The coalition’s draft should reflect a consensus among member parties as to what an ideal amnesty bill aimed at defusing political conflicts should contain, said Mr Varawut, who is also the minister of social development and human security.

At this point, he said, Chartthaipattana stands firm that a bill must not cover violations of Section 112 of the Criminal Code — the lese-majeste law — and other serious criminal offences in which politically motivated violence resulted in deaths and injuries.

He made the comments in response to a declaration by the Pheu Thai Party that it would submit its own version of a new amnesty bill to the House to rival the Move Forward draft.

As some parties have already proposed versions of a bill, the government has yet to come up with its own draft and it would have more impact if the coalition could agree on one version, said Chavalit Vichayasuthi, a member of the Pheu Thai strategic committee.

A joint draft by coalition parties would signify their views on political conflicts over the last two decades and how they think the country should get over these conflicts and restore real peace, he said.  

Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra, meanwhile, insisted her party's amnesty move had nothing to do with any new royal pardon that might or might not be granted to her father, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, 74, returned to Thailand on Aug 22 after 15 years of self-imposed exile and was sentenced to a total of eight years in three cases. However, he was sent from the Bangkok Remand Prison to the Police General Hospital on health grounds after just 12 hours behind bars, and has remained there since.

After seeking a royal pardon, his eight-year term was cut to one year by His Majesty the King.

Pheu Thai has been working on an amnesty bill for many years and is now determined to make it happen, Ms Paetongtarn said, adding that details of the draft would, however, have to be finalised by incorporating different opinions into it.

The party has resolved to discuss it one last time in a meeting before submitting the draft to parliament, said party secretary-general Sorawong Thienthong.

As the amnesty bill is a highly sensitive matter and concerns several groups, a more comprehensive study on it will be needed and Pheu Thai is now considering requesting that the House form a special sub-committee to conduct a study first.

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