NLA expected to pass amended Military Courts Bill

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BANGKOK, 16 February – The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is expected to approve the amended Military Court Charter Act on February 20th while assuring the public the expansion of military jurisdiction will not affect civilian rights. 

NLA member Vice Admiral Kridsada Charoenpanich who is the secretary of the NLA subcommittee in charge of reviewing draft laws, confirmed that it was essential to pass the law as the amendments would update criminal court procedures to coincide with present times. He also confirmed that the proposed law had been in the works since before the seizing of power by the National Council for Peace and Order.

Articles in the proposed bill have raised the concerns of the United Nation’s Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, particularly article 46 which enables military commanders to detain suspects for up to 84 days.

Representatives from the European Union have also called on the government to stop prosecuting civilians in military courts.

Vice Admiral Kridsada, however, brushed off these criticisms, saying the military is authorized under martial law to put civilians through military tribunals and that the intentions of article 46 have been misunderstood. He said the provision is only meant for the detention of military personnel, and that it does not apply to the detention of civilians.

Vice Admiral Kridsada also dismissed calls by representatives of the European Union, saying the military has the authority to do as stipulated in martial law.

The secretary said that further clarifications will be made on the implications and guidelines of article 46 and will be presented to the main NLA assembly for consideration. Furthermore he revealed that the chairman of the subcommittee in charge of reviewing the draft law Admiral Wallop Kerdpol may issue a press release to further clarify the intention of the proposed bill before it is further deliberated at the NLA.