Courts facing battle against politicians

Courts facing battle against politicians

The courts of justice are facing mounting pressure from political parties that wield dominance over parliament, a seminar was told yesterday.

Amorn Chantharasomboon, former secretary-general of the Council of State, said the courts of justice are facing a tough battle against a "parliamentary dictatorship" involving parties which in turn are controlled by financiers.

Unlike other democratic countries, Thailand may be the only country in the world where the courts of justice are scrutinised by political institutions. This is not in line with the principles of democracy, said Mr Amorn, one of the drafters of the 1997 constitution.

The seminar was held yesterday to mark the 105th birthday of the late former prime minister and former Supreme Court president Sanya Dharmasakti, organised by Thammasat University's Sanya Dharmasakti Institute for Democracy.

Mr Amorn said the courts of justice play a crucial role in scrutinising political activities. This has been the case with the Supreme Court's criminal division for holders of political positions, he said.

The Constitution Court and the Administrative Court, established by the 1997 charter, are a step forward, he said.

Mr Amorn also stressed the need for the judiciary to win more public trust and ensure their verdicts can benefit people and protect the private sector.

He said judges must enjoy freedom when they deliver verdicts but they are never immune from scrutiny.

Constitution Court president Wasan Soypisudh said the court can be easily criticised because there are no laws to prohibit breaching the court's power.

Mr Wasan said the law also allows the senate, MPs and the public to launch impeachment proceedings against Constitution Court judges.

Supreme Administrative Court president Hasawuth Withitwiriyakul said the Administrative Court has always tried to be self-critical.

He insisted the court's function is to deliver administrative justice without any special power.

The Administrative Court never overreaches its powers given by the law and the constitution, he said.

Democrat list MP and former justice minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said he disagreed with the return to a single court system. He said the single court system cannot be applied in the country now because the system requires experts in various fields but the country still lacks such personnel.

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