Security agencies float new peace process for South


BANGKOK, Feb 22 – A proposal to grant conditional amnesty to southern militants will be submitted to a high-level committee chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in an attempt to peacefully resolve escalating crisis in Thailand’s far South, a senior official said today.

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said a meeting of security-related agencies on Friday agreed to the enforcement of Article 21 of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in certain areas in three southern border provinces to pave the way for insurgents to surrender to the authorities.

Article 21 states that militants related to the unrest in the three southern provinces – Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – will be granted an amnesty if they confess and agree to attend a six-month reeducation course organised by the International Security Operations Command (ISOC). They will be categorised as “misled persons” and freed of their criminal charges.

Describing the move as a “window to peace process,” Pol Gen Pracha said the proposal will be made to the Centre to Mobilize Policy and Strategy to Solve Problems in the Southern Border Provinces chaired by the prime minister for a final decision.

In areas where Article 21 is not implemented, the government will use other laws with a similar objective of giving insurgents a chance to join the peace process, he said.

ISOC will work out details on the areas where the ISA article will be applied, he said.

The Emergency Decree announced in certain areas in the southern border provinces is due to expire on March 19.

Article 21, if announced, will replace the Emergency Decree. The ISA was promulgated in 2008 to prevent, gain control of or otherwise resolve a situation that causes or may cause danger to life or property of individuals or to the state.