AMNESTY International Thailand together with academics today (Sept. 23) submitted a letter to the government urging revocation of the state of emergency decree and dropping charges of violating this decree filed against at least 1,467 people,Sanook.com said.
Mrs. Piyanuch Kotsan, director of Amnesty International Thailand, said the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation BE 2548 was invoked in May 2020 in response to the Covid pandemic and extended 19 times.
Up to June 2022 suspended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha exercised power under Section 9 of the decree to issue 47 regulations that either lay down new measures on disease control or amended previous ones.
These include imposing curfew, closing certain establishments and banning gatherings.
“Amnesty International Thailand sees the enforcement of emergency decree and these regulations … as more than necessary affecting the right to life, liberty and security of people including freedom of expression and freedom to protest and other human rights,” the group said.
From May 2020 to August 2022, over two years of the enforcement of this decree, at least 1,467 people have been prosecuted in 647 cases for alleged breaches of the emergency decree through the exercise of freedom of expression, Amnesty International Thailand said, adding that among them were 241 children under the age of 18 prosecuted in 157 cases.
Most of the charges against demonstrators are for violation of the emergency decree, the group said.
According to Mob Data Thailand, upto July this year at least 50 peaceful demonstrations were seen as violating the emergency decree and rubber bullets, tear gas and high-pressure water cannons were used to deal with demonstrators without distinction.
The six demands Amnesty International Thailand made in its letter are as follows:
– The government revoke the emergency decree bearing in mind appropriateness in not allowing rights under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
– Allow people and groups to express their opinions and protest peacefully in a safe area;
– Stop criminal prosecution of people exercising their freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration rights;
– Ensure that all law enforcement officers in charge of crowd control are properly trained;
– Ensure that all measures implement in emergency situations are legally correct and necessary;
– Consider improving the Communicable Diseases Act B.E. 2558 in accordance with international rules and principles of legality.
Amnesty International Thailand and academics rally prior to submitting their letter to the Thai government. Photos: Sanook.com