Government warned on ISA but insists on violating rights

14 09 2009

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been highly partisan in recent years and the new NHRC has been criticized for lack of credentials and initial weak human rights statement (as an example, see here).

In a report in the Bangkok Post (14 September 2009: “NHRC: Don’t rush to impose ISA”), however, it seems that PPT has to give kudos where it is due. We have been especially critical of the Democrat Party-led government’s speculative and repressive use of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The  NHRC has decided that it “will ask Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, as chairman of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), not to rush to impose the Internal Security Act (ISA) ahead of the Sept 19 red-shirts rally…”. Human rights commissioner Nirand Pithakwatchara said that a subcommittee on civil and political rights had met “to consider a petition filed by Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, a representative of the June 24 Democracy Group, who asked the NHRC to examine the government’s use of the Internal Security Act.”

Based on testimony from the Prime Minister’s Office and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban’s representative, as well as from the National Security Council and the army, the NHRC sub-committee “concluded that the ISA should be used only when it was clear beyond doubt that there would be a serious incident which could affect national security as stated in Article 15 of the law…”.

In fact, Nirand explained that “government representatives were not able to clearly justify the imposition of the ISA ahead of Aug 30, when the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship had planned a major rally but called it off at the last minute.” In addition, he stated that there “was no reason for the government to impose the ISA ahead of the UDD’s planned Sept 19 rally…”.

The ISA was a last resort and it was for the government to assess the “actual situation at the time determine whether it should impose the ISA…. Imposing the law ahead of the rally may only violate the people’s right to peaceful assembly.” PPT has added the emphasis to the point we have made in several posts.

More, though, Nirand said the “imposition of the ISA , which involved use of military force base based on speculation,- may be seen as undemocratic and a violation of human rights.”

We hope that Nirand’s bosses don’t rush out to deny his recognition of human rights breaches by the government.

Of course, Suthep and Abhisit paid no attention to the NHRC. In The Nation (15 September 2009: “Govt to impose ISA today”) it is reported that even though violent clashes not expected, the “Cabinet will invoke the … ISA … today to prepare for demonstrations the red shirts are planning to hold on Saturday…”.

Let’s explain: no violence expected – the police agree, red shirts agree, Abhisit agrees – but the ISA is invoked 4 days before the event.

So why is the government imposing the law ahead of the rally when the NHRC  believes that this will “violate the people’s right to peaceful assembly”?

Govt to impose ISA today



3 responses

15 09 2009
New: Democrats defend ISA « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Take Action Updated: Government warned on ISA but insists on violating rights […]

17 09 2009
New: No violence expected, thousands of troops mobilized « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] by the Democrat Party-led government. We blogged about how the National Human Rights Commission questioned the government’s use of the ISA and we blogged today about statements regarding “no violence expected.” In that latter […]

24 09 2009
Protests, human rights and mystery protestors « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The Democrat Party-led government has already put the Internal Security Act into operation, despite criticism from the National Human Rights Commission. The Bangkok Post (17 September 2009: “Isoc worries about a third hand”) points out […]

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