Rights groups slam military arrest powers
Six international human rights groups have issued a joint call for the revocation of a National Commission for Peace and Order (NCPO) order conferring sweeping law and order powers on the military as part of the crackdown on mafia influence.
The order contravenes the rule of law and human rights principles, they say.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International (AI), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, International Federation for Human Rights, and Fortify Rights (FR) issued the call Tuesday in response to NCPO order No 13/2016 issued on March 29.
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The order gives appointed "prevention and suppression officers" and their assistants, drawn from the commissioned ranks of the armed forces, wide-ranging powers to prevent and suppress 27 categories of crimes.
These include immigration, human trafficking, narcotics, and firearms offences.
"The implementation of Order 13/2016 will almost certainly lead to violations of Thailand's international human rights obligations and the rule of law and must be revoked immediately," ICJ secretary-general Wilder Tayler said.
"We have observed a steady erosion of human rights protections in Thailand, and this order signifies another, jarring movement in the same direction," Mr Tayler said.
The order raised numerous human rights concerns including the order's provision granting a form of immunity from prosecution to those acting under it.
"The order is yet another example of the pernicious removal of powers from the judicial system to review the military's actions, to the detriment of rights protection," said Champa Patel, AI's interim director, South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.
"This order stands to fuel the fire of retaliation against human rights defenders in Thailand," Amy Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights said.