Thirty-eight civil groups on Tuesday submitted a letter to the National Legislative Assembly opposing a bill giving state authorities more power to control public gatherings.
The organisations included the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the Union for Civil Liberty, the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee and the Network of Slums of Four Regions. NLA deputy chairman Surachai Liangboonlertchai received the letter.
Chamnong Noopan, chairman of the Network of Slums of Four Regions, said the bill was proposed by government agencies without public input. It restricted people's right to gather publicly — one of the basic freedoms of democracy, he said.
Mr Chamnong said the bill imposed many restrictions, among them a curtailment of the Administrative Court's power to investigate orders or actions by state authorities' handling of rallies.
The ban on demonstrations near Government House, parliament and courthouses, as well as prohibitions on demonstrators blocking entrances to government offices, were not practical because people, in staging a rally, want to submit complaints directly to an agency.
The requirement for the organisers of a rally to notify authorities 24 hours in advance fails to recognise that, in certain circumstances, public gatherings happen spontaneously, he added.
The limitations on the power of loudspeakers and times they can be used might also cause problems for protesters in controlling the demonstrators, the letter said.
Violations of the public-gathering control bill should not be taken as criminal offences since a rally is a means of exercising rights and liberties, Mr Chamnong said. The organisations called on the NLA to suspend deliberation of the bill to take more public comment on it.
The NLA earlier approved a first reading of the bill and it is now being scrutinised in committee. The proposals submitted by the people's organisations will be forwarded to that committee, Mr Surachai said.