Nitirat calls for red amnesty

Nitirat calls for red amnesty

The Nitirat group has proposed that a political amnesty for red-shirt protesters be part of the constitutional amendment process.

The idea is one of several ambitious reconciliation proposals that will be promoted by the group of Thammasat University law lecturers this year.

The move came after the Pheu Thai government hesitated to push for an amnesty process for rank-and-file red shirts accused of violence during the political unrest in April-May 2010.

The group wants to put the amnesty as a chapter in the amended charter, said Worachet Pakeerut, Thammasat University law associate professor and a key member of Nitirat, which is officially known as the Enlightened Jurists Group.

"Why is it to be in the constitution? That's because an amnesty bill or decree will provide a blanket amnesty, but the proposed amnesty as a constitutional chapter will not cover authorities involved in crackdowns on protests after the Sept 19 coup in 2006 until the last election in 2011," Mr Worachet said.

"This [proposal] is unprecedented as it aims to teach a lesson to the authorities. It will be a concrete platform to dismantle the impunity in our society," said the Nitirat leader.

He said the normal mechanisms of the judiciary could not or did not care to provide justice to the people who have become entangled in political conflicts.

"State officials involved in crowd dispersal operations could already defend themselves under the normal justice system as they are already covered by protective clauses in other security laws," he added.

Under the proposed amnesty chapter, a five-member conflict resolution committee would be established and it would have the final say on the amnesty process.

The committee members would consist of one nominated by the cabinet, two nominated by the House of Representatives _ one MP from the ruling party and another MP from the opposition _ one judge or retired judge selected by the parliament and one prosecutor or retired prosecutor also selected by parliament.

But a member of the Law Reform Commission (LRC) said introducing national reconciliation laws or amending the constitution to bring about reconciliation could only be achieved when political sentiments were conducive _ and now is not the right time.

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