Family protection petition heads to court

Family protection petition heads to court

Judges to rule on exec decree legality

Parliament President Chuan Leekpai
Parliament President Chuan Leekpai

The opposition's petition on the legality of the executive decree delaying the amendment bill on family protection was forwarded to the Constitutional Court on Thursday.

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai said on Thursday he was passing the decree to the court on Thursday, which was the deadline for its submission. Mr Chuan, however, said there was no guarantee, after the court issued the ruling that the decree would be returned to parliament for endorsement in time for the current House session.

The cabinet on Aug 26 approved the decree, which puts on hold the draft bill to amend the 2007 law promoting the development and protection of families. The bill was passed by the National Legislative Assembly under the previous government and is waiting to go into effect. The 2007 law stipulates that criminal investigations into acts of domestic violence follow the normal legal procedures in which the probe is handled by the police and the assault charges stemming from domestic violence are compoundable offences.

However, the amendment bill seeks to hand the powers to investigate domestic violence over to officials attached to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The assault charges from domestic violence also constitute non-compoundable offences under the bill.

The cabinet approved the decree because it recognised that the amendment bill would be impractical if it went into effect in its current form. It reasoned that the social development officials were not skilled enough in legal matters to conduct the criminal investigation.

On Thursday, Social Development and Human Security Minister Chuti Krairiksh explained that many related laws were amended to accommodate the proposed amendment to the family protection law.

He said that the changes would create practical problems and the officials were not ready to take on the investigation.

"The people who approved the changes to the related laws lack understanding of Thai culture and bureaucracy," he said.

The opposition insists the decree failed to meet the criteria stipulated by the constitution.

A royal decree should only be invoked in the interests of national security, public safety, economic security and disaster prevention, according to Chusak Sirinil, the Pheu Thai Party legal affairs chief.

The fact that the cabinet approved it provides grounds to justify seeking a court ruling, the opposition says.

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