Justice: ICJ: “Thailand must immediately end prosecution of civilians in military tribunals”

How many 100s or 1,000s of Thais already, have been hauled into a military court? In fact, 100s of politicians, were hauled into military prisons, and forced to sign an agreement, to stop their political activity.

ICJ: Thailand must immediately end prosecution of civilians in military tribunals

The following is from Prachathai (Source)

Submitted by taweporn on Sat, 22/11/2014 – 10:18

International Commission of Jurists

Thailand must end immediately the prosecution of civilians in military tribunals and transfer all remaining cases to the civilian courts, said the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today.
On 18 November 2014, the Bangkok Military Tribunal convicted a political broadcaster, Khathawut B., of lese majeste under article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, and sentenced him to five years in jail following a plea of guilty. The court barred observers and the public from the proceedings on the ground that they “concerned matters of national security.”

There is no appeal possible under article 61 of the Thai Act for the Organization of the Military Court so long as Thailand remains under Martial Law, which has been in force nationwide since May 22.

“Under international standards, civilians should not be subject to the jurisdiction of military tribunals, particularly where, like in military-ruled Thailand, military tribunals lack the institutional independence from the executive required by international law regarding fair trials. Thus, civilians convicted before such tribunals should have the right to a new trial before a civilian court,” said Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the ICJ. “This case also highlights another very serious problem with the state of human rights in Thailand: Thailand’s misuse of criminal defamation laws to imprison people exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) extended the jurisdiction of military tribunals over civilians after it took power by a coup d’etat and imposed Martial Law throughout Thailand. Prior to this, civilians had not been subject to military jurisdiction in Thailand for crimes not directly involving the military for decades, including during the state of emergency in place in southern Thailand since 2004.

Among crimes now within the jurisdiction of military tribunals in Thailand is lese majeste – criminalizing the making of statements that could be construed as defaming or insulting the Thai Monarchy. Such broad restrictions violate the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.

Since the coup, at least 69 civilians have faced prosecution before military tribunals in Thailand on charges ranging from breaching NCPO orders, to planning a terrorist act and lese majeste.

Under article 14 of the ICCPR, everyone has the right to a “fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.” The imposition of Martial Law, and the State’s suspension of some of its obligations under the ICCPR, including the right to appeal guaranteed by article 14(5) for cases heard by military tribunals, does not affect the applicability of this provision.

“All prosecutions of civilians before military tribunals must be transferred to civilian courts immediately, if Thailand is to comply with its international obligations,” said Tayler. “There is absolutely no excuse or justification for the use of military tribunals to prosecute civilians in Thailand, and especially not for simply exercising the right to freedom of expression.”
The Draft Principles Governing the Administration of Justice through Military Tribunals, set out principles that apply to state use of military tribunals.

Principle 5 states “Military courts should, in principle, have no jurisdiction to try civilians. In all circumstances, the State shall ensure that civilians accused of a criminal offence of any nature are tried by civilian courts.”

Further, Principle 2 states “Military tribunals must in all circumstances apply standards and procedures internationally recognized as guarantees of a fair trial.” Military tribunals must in all circumstances respect the principles of international law relating to a fair trial, even in times of crisis.

About IJC:

Composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, the International Commission of Jurists promotes and protects human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. Established in 1952 and active on the five continents, the ICJ aims to ensure the progressive development and effective implementation of international human rights and international humanitarian law; secure the realization of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights; safeguard the separation of powers; and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and legal profession.

Vision

The ICJ strives for:

A world in which, through the Rule of Law, a just, democratic and peaceful society is achieved, arbitrary exercise of power is prevented, rights and freedoms are expanded, and social justice is embraced.
A world in which, through the Rule of Law, everyone is able to realise and exercise, without discrimination, his or her civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, and in which the rights of the most marginalised are particularly addressed.
A world in which everyone is equal before the law and protected from human rights violations by the law and in practice; one in which those in power are held accountable for human rights violations; where justice is administered in accordance with due process of law; where victims have access to effective remedies and justice; and those who come before the courts receive a fair trial and never face the death penalty.

Mission

The ICJ’s mission is:

To ensure that international law, especially human rights and humanitarian law, is utilised effectively for protection, particularly for the most vulnerable, and is implemented through effective national and international procedures.
To promote and expand the Rule of Law as a dynamic concept through which civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights are safeguarded and advanced.

To advance the understanding that the Rule of Law requires that states, under the principle of separation of powers, develop effective executive, judicial and legislative institutions and measures, as checks and balances, to respect and protect the human rights of all.

To assist judges, lawyers and prosecutors, acting under the highest ethical standards and professional integrity, to be independent, impartial, and free to carry out their professional duties.

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