Crisis likely if decree ruled invalid

Crisis likely if decree ruled invalid

The government will be forced to resign or dissolve the House of Representatives if the Constitutional Court rules against the executive decree delaying the amendment to the family protection law, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

It was the first time Mr Wissanu spoke of the consequences if the court finds the decree -- approved by the cabinet on Aug 26 -- to be illegitimate. However, he insisted the decree was legitimate and met the criteria stipulated by the constitution.

At issue is an executive decree which puts on hold a bill to amend the 2007 law promoting the development and protection of families.

The bill, passed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) under the previous government, seeks to hand power from the police to investigate domestic violence cases over to officials attached to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

The cabinet decided to delay passing the amendments into law when it recognised the bill will "impractical" if passed in its current form.

However, the opposition argued an executive decree should only be invoked in cases involving national security, public safety, economic security and/or disaster mitigation.

In protest, they petitioned House speaker Chuan Leekpai to seek a ruling from court on the legality of the decree.

Mr Wissanu said if the court ruled against the executive decree, it meant the government committed a mistake and it would have to either resign, or dissolve the House.

"However, If the court rules in its favour, the decree will be returned to the parliament for a vote," he said.

According to the deputy prime minister, the government consulted police, prosecutors and other agencies concerned before it issued the decree.

Mr Wissanu admitted there are still issues which need to be worked out before the bill is passed into law, such as the lack of social workers who can effectively conduct criminal investigations into a domestic abuse case.

"There are currently one [capable] social worker in each province, where there should be at least four," he said.

He also noted that under the bill, officers attached to the Office of Women's Affairs and Family Development will be responsible for probing domestic violence cases, but its staff are trained to negotiate, not investigate and prosecute.

"Between 2007-2019, there were more than 10,000 domestic violence cases. So maybe we should set up a new department [to handle the cases]," he said.

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