iLaw petitions court to end 'stifling' decree

iLaw petitions court to end 'stifling' decree

Activists want govt to pay B4.5m damages

Cars pass the Din Daeng flats, where anti-government protesters have reportedly stayed before launching rallies, resulting in a number of clashes with riot police around Din Daeng intersection in the evenings. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Cars pass the Din Daeng flats, where anti-government protesters have reportedly stayed before launching rallies, resulting in a number of clashes with riot police around Din Daeng intersection in the evenings. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) group has petitioned the Civil Court seeking to abolish what it said was the enforcement of the emergency decree to curtail people's rights to expression.

The petition was lodged against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and related authorities over the issuance of the decree.

Petitioners -- iLaw manager Yingcheep Atchanond, feminist movement representative Chutima Tangkliang and Ratsadon protest group core member Atthapol Buapat -- demanded 4.5-million-baht compensation for damages incurred by the decree's enforcement.

The petitioners said they were among the damaged parties as they were charged under the decree for speaking at a rally organised by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) on March 24.

The faced legal prosecution despite exercising their rights to free expression and participation in a peaceful protest, which are guaranteed by the constitution.

Mr Yingcheep said the decree may be applied to limit certain rights for the sake of containing the pandemic. However, it cannot be invoked in support of the government's order to suspend or break up protests.

The decree, he added, was not intended to stifle an individual's right to political expression.

The activist noted every time a protest was held, organisers and speakers would be charged under the decree, culminating in 483 criminal cases in which 1,171 people are facing legal action.

The petitioners asked the court to revoke the decree. A revocation would have retroactive effect, meaning all charges brought against people under the decree would be annulled.

Mr Yingcheep said those who staged violent protests may be prosecuted via the criminal law or the Public Gatherings Act.

Sanya Iadjongdee, a lawyer representing the petitioners, said he would request the court to release an injunction to temporarily stop the government using the decree against protesters pending its ruling.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) announced it had arrested 26 mostly teenage protesters belonging to the Thalugas group during unrest near Din Daeng intersection late on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

The protesters threw fire crackers and flares to provoke a response from the police during the violent rally from about 9.45 pm on Monday night to 2.30 am the following morning, said MPB deputy commissioner Jirasan Kaewsaeng-ek.

Among evidence seized from the suspects were 14 flares and 14 motorcycles. Twenty five were initially charged with defying the nighttime curfew and one person with defying the curfew and possessing methamphetamine.

Some were caught inside the nearby Din Daeng flats but were not provided shelter by the tenants.

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