GENEVA – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is concerned that a number of proposed amendments to Thailand’s law relating to military courts, which are due for consideration this week, are not in line with international standards, according to a the High Commissioner’s spokesperson.
The country’s National Legislative Assembly, which was appointed by the military government in 2014, is expected to adopt a series of amendments to the 1955 Act on the Organization of Military Courts on Thursday.
“We are particularly concerned that the proposed amendment to section 46 would authorize military commanders to issue detention orders for both military personnel and civilians under the Criminal Procedure Code for up to 84 days with no judicial oversight,” said Rupert Colville. “Since the May 2014 coup, military courts have had jurisdiction over civilians for specific offenses.”
The proposed amendment on judicial oversight of military detention could be applied in such cases, Mr. Colville said, pointing out that detention without judicial review breaches the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.
Under Article 9 of the Covenant, a person detained on suspicion of a criminal offence is to be brought promptly before a judge, with the Human Rights Council, which oversees the ICCPR, interpreting “promptly” to mean within a few days.
“OHCHR notes assurances by the current Government of its commitment to uphold its international human rights obligations,” said the Spokesperson. “We urge the National Legislative Assembly to revise the proposed amendments in line with international human rights standards, including the right to judicial review of detention, right to counsel and right to appeal.”
The Office called on the Government to restrict use of military courts to military offences committed by military personnel and recalled the ICCPR obligation to ensure that everyone has the right to a “fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law” (article 14), noting also that the Human Rights Council underlined that the military character of a trial should in no way affect such rights.