8 human rights groups call for 'review' of Section 44 plan

8 human rights groups call for 'review' of Section 44 plan

Eight human rights organisations have called on National Council for Peace and Order chief Prayut Chan-o-cha to rethink a proposal to replace martial law with an order under Section 44 of the interim constitution.

In a statement released Monday, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Community Resource Centre, Cross-Cultural Foundation, Human Rights Lawyers Association, Human Rights and Development Foundation, ProRights Foundation, Union for Civil Liberty and Enlaw Foundation maintained their calls for the lifting of martial law, but said imposition of a Section 44 order would be worse.

The Martial Law Act has given the military sweeping powers to conduct searches and seizures, hold people without charge for seven days and try civilians in a military court. The activists long have sought to have it revoked.

"Revocation of martial law should be aimed at protecting and enhancing the rights and freedom of people," the activists said. "And since existing laws are sufficient for the purpose of maintaining peace and order, there is no need to invoke either martial law or Section 44."

Section 44 of the interim charter gives the NCPO chief absolute power over executive, legislative and judicial decisions and allows it to overrule judicial and legislative authority.

"Section 44 still does not solve the problems that have been (raging) in the past several months. Instead, it will simply do away with a scant guarantee of (people's) rights and freedoms since Section 44 provides absolute powers to the chief of the NCPO over the legislative, the administrative and the judiciary," the groups said.

The human rights organisations called on him to "review" the idea as "its use shall undermine the principle of the separation of powers, the rule of law and is a breach to international human rights obligations".

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