Activists want 35 orders from NCPO axed
Petition urging reform to be sent to House
Activist groups are inviting people to sign a petition calling for the annulment of 35 orders and announcements issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which they claim violate people's rights.
Representatives of 24 citizen networks convened at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus to raise awareness of the NCPO's orders -- which have the same effect as laws -- claiming at least 35 of the 533 articles the military government has drafted infringe on human rights and democratic freedom.
The groups are gathering at least 10,000 signatures of eligible voters so they can propose legislation to the House of Representatives according to Section 133 of the constitution.
Jon Ungpakorn, director of iLaw, said: "It has been three years and eight months since the NCPO took power, and despite their claim that using Section 44 benefits the people, it has in fact stripped vital rights from the people."
"For instance, order number 3/2015 issued by the NCPO chief [Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha] empowering soldiers to summon and detain people at classified locations for seven days without charge for posing a threat to or undermining the government is an abuse of power with no tangible framework to prove such violations occurred," he said. The order also prohibits political gatherings of five or more people.
Meanwhile, the president of the 4 Regions Slum Network, Nutchanart Thanthong, said the order has obstructed his network from resolving problems. People living on or near 2,000 canals across Bangkok have been pressured by the government to leave their homes, she said.
"Whenever we try to meet up to discuss plans to protect our homes, they label it as a political gathering. Whatever the network does must be reported to authorities, along with our movements," Ms Nutchanart said. "They monitor our every move, and it only gets more barbaric."
Other incidents that gained public scrutiny were the use of Section 44 to allow the private sector to use land under the Agricultural Land Reform Office that was originally designated to create jobs for the lower classes. Farmers claimed this trade-off was a major blow that leaves them at a huge disadvantage.
Of the 35 articles which iLaw claims infringe on individual rights, nine relate to freedom of expression, seven allegedly infringe on the judicial process, 13 on community rights and six on the freedom of the press. People can sign the petition to remove the 35 orders under Section 44 at ilaw.io.
Mr Jon said the groups will wait and submit the signatures to the House after the next election rather than to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). "In accordance to Section 133, we will submit our petition to the House of Representatives. We do not believe in the National Legislative Assembly," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam recently said the NCPO chief had issued orders under Section 44 of the interim constitution to quickly solve important problems relating to national reform, restructuring, security, public safety and economy. Such orders had administrative and legislative effect but were never issued to intervene in any judicial matter, he said.
The government announced it would ask the NLA to legislate most of the orders into law so they would remain in effect when the NCPO is dissolved after the election.