Former NRC members pushing for unity law

Former NRC members pushing for unity law

Amnesty talk revives as 'reprieve' bid fails

Former members of a defunct National Reform Council committee are pushing for a new law on the administration of justice to restore national unity.

Poom Moonlaslip, a former member of the defunct NRC panel on reconciliation chaired by Anek Laothammatat, said the panel's former members are working with the National Legislative Assembly on a bill covering the administration of justice.

The bill is based on a six-point report prepared by the NRC panel which is studying approaches that seek to promote national unity.

The document proposes ways to heal the political divide and restore relations between those involved in political conflicts. It covers all aspects of a reconciliation bid, including compensation to affected parties, an amnesty and a truth-seeking process.

Under the bill, a committee would be set up to handle cases involving political offences. The committee would be made up of people who are recognised by members of the public as well as victims of political unrest.

Under the proposed law, political offenders would be divided into protesters and protest leaders.

Ordinary people who took part in political protests but did not commit serious criminal offences, such as killings, corruption or gross violations of human rights would be exempt from prosecution, Mr Poom said.

Protest leaders would be required to show contrition in public and reveal the truth behind the political conflicts.

The next step would be to consider if a special law, such as an amnesty bill, should be granted. Granting an amnesty is a sensitive issue and the matter must be handled carefully to avoid any conflict, Mr Poom said.

Mr Poom added the NLA and the former NRC panel members are expected to finalise the details of the bill within 30 days.

Meanwhile, Adul Khieuboribun, chairman of the 1992 May Heroes Relatives Committee, said while he supported efforts to restore unity, he disagreed with a reprieve for political offenders proposed by Seree Suwanphanont, chairman of the National Reform Steering Assembly's political reform panel.

The proposal calls for a "reprieve" from court proceedings and convictions for all offenders in politically-motivated cases during the last decade of unrest.

Under the Seree proposal, anyone who had been charged and agreed they were in the wrong could plead guilty and be released, while those who believed they were innocent could fight their cases in court.

Mr Adul said the proposed reprieve would only benefit those charged with minor offences under the Internal Security Act. There were more than 1,000 of these offenders, but most of them have now been cleared of the charges and released, with only 60-70 cases pending hearings.

However, Mr Seree has said he was willing to back off from the proposal, in the face of growing opposition.

Mr Adul stressed that relatives of the victims of political unrest must have a role in pushing for reconciliation, and the role should not be limited only to the government or politicians.

He also urged Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who is in charge of national security, or anyone in the National Council for Peace and Order to support efforts to foster national unity. The relatives committee is ready to support any of them to become the next prime minister if they succeed in doing so, Mr Adul said.

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