NCPO brushes off European Union concerns over use of military courts

NCPO brushes off European Union concerns over use of military courts

The National Council for Peace and Order has downplayed the European Union delegation’s concern about the use of military courts against civilians.

“The NCPO is well aware of this concern, but it would like [the EU] to think about the current situation in Thailand that is different from those of other countries. [This means] the context of problem solving here may be different from ones used elsewhere,” NCPO spokesman Winthai Suwaree said yesterday on behalf of Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, the NCPO secretary general and army chief.

The EU Delegation to Thailand said it was concerned about the judicial processes being used and said that Thailand, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, had a duty to promptly bring suspects before a judge.

The EU delegation was concerned about the continued use of military courts to try civilians and called on the government to restrict the use of these courts to military-related offences committed by military personnel. “As a friend and partner of Thailand, the EU has repeatedly called for the democratic process to be restored and for martial law to be lifted,” it said.

The rule of law and the protection and promotion of human rights were crucial elements for stability and progress, the EU’s statement said.

Col Winthai said court permission was always sought before any criminal suspects were detained and prosecutions were done under the normal judicial process.

As for those who had been summonsed and given "attitude adjustment", they weren’t treated as criminals and the NCPO had been following the principles of human rights in dealing with this group of people, he said.

There have been only two to three offences related to national security that have been tried in a military court, which the NCPO is confident the majority of society understands, said Col Winthai.

The format of trials being hear before a military court is based on the same legal provisions normally used in civilian courts, he added.

In response to the EU’s call for the restoration of the democratic process, he said work is being carried out in several ways to restore democracy in Thailand, although a new general election which is a part of the NCPO’s road map has yet to happen.

As for the EU’s call for the NCPO to lift martial law, Col Winthai said the political situation is still very delicate and this mechanism is crucial for maintaining law and order. Martial law is being invoked only to prohibit political gatherings and to enhance the efficiency of law enforcement authorities, he said.

“Please be assured that the NCPO and the government is now moving full steam ahead on the road map to resolve the country’s problems, reform and the restoration of democracy,” he said.

“And Thailand may beg for a chance and support [from the EU], as a friend and
partner of Thailand, to move towards the direction that Thai society is looking forward to.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the ministry was aware of the EU’s latest stance and saw nothing new in it.

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