What’s Wrong With The Emergency Decree?

There’s an interesting article from Human Rights Watch titled: “Thailand: Lift Emergency Decree – Draconian Law Allows Authorities to Violate Rights With Impunity”.

Following some points worth highlighting:

  • The Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation (“Emergency Decree”) allows Thai authorities to carry out extended detention of suspects without charge; deny information about those detained without charge; use unofficial detention facilities, where there are inadequate safeguards against possible abuse in custody; and impose widespread censorship.
  • While implementing the Emergency Decree, officials have effective immunity from prosecution
  • “If the Thai government has a legitimate reason to use the Emergency Decree, it should publicly justify it with hard facts,” – acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
  • The government has not put forward any justification for suspending certain human rights protections provided under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Thailand, which requires an emergency that “threatens the life of the nation” and says that the measures imposed must be “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.”
  • The government is systematically using the Emergency Decree to hold persons without charge for up to 30 days in unofficial places of detention. Human Rights Watch noted that the category of people subjected to questioning, arrest, and detention by the government’s Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES) has apparently been expanded beyond leaders and members of the UDD who directly took part in the protests, and now includes those accused of sympathizing with or supporting the UDD.
  • The authorities deprive those arrested and detained under the Emergency Decree of their right to challenge a detention before a court (habeas corpus).
  • the Emergency Decree provides neither assurances of prompt access to legal counsel and family members nor effective judicial and administrative safeguards against the mistreatment of detainees, as required by international law.
  • the CRES has so far failed to provide information about the exact number of those detained and their current whereabouts to their families, parliamentary inquiry commissions, the National Human Rights Commission, and the newly appointed Independent Fact-Finding Commission for Reconciliation.
  • since April 7, the government has used the Emergency Decree to undermine media freedom and violate the right to free expression. The CRES has shut down more than 1,000 websites, a satellite television station, online television channels, newspapers, magazines, and community radio stations, most of which are considered closely aligned with the UDD.
  • “Thailand’s ongoing restrictions on free expression through emergency powers are nothing less than a national regime of censorship” – Richardson said.