Royalist court congratulates itself

27 12 2012

The Constitutional Court has assigned its secretary general Chaowana Traimas to congratulate it on its performance in 2012. Chaowana said: “This year has been satisfactory because cases involving constitutional disputes show a greater understanding of the rule of law…”.

That “greater understanding” hasn’t been evidenced by the judges themselves as their most high-profile cases have been decided on the basis of royalist political interests rather than law. The Constitutional Court seems to use of the term “rule of law” much like former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, as a synonym for rule by law and the rule of the state institutions that are controlled by royalists.

The Nation article singles out a couple of issues for special mention as “highlights” for the court, and these well demonstrate the court’s political positioning. The most significant for us is the “ruling on the constitutionality of the lese majeste clause under Article 112 of the Criminal Code. The high court opined that the clause was designed to protect the head of state, which did not contradict freedom of expression.” Prachatai has posted the Constitutional Court’s ruling. It is also available  from the court’s appropriately royalist website (a PDF in ไทย).

In that verdict, the court stated:

The Constitutional Court sees that the principle of Section 112 of the Penal Code is in line with providing protection to the king, an institution and head of the state of Thailand. The provision of penalty for offenders is needed to maintain public order and good morals of the people in accordance with the rule of law, which is the morality and ethics of the law.

It added that:

Commission of offences under Section 112 of the Penal Code shall affect the security of the state as the king is an institution the Constitution recognizes and protects, and is part of the democratic regime of government with the King as head of the state of Thailand…. Therefore, Section 112 of the Penal Code is a legal provision relating to the security of the kingdom having the same meaning of being the law enacted for protecting the security of the state….

In this decision, the politicized court makes the lese majeste law an essential element of the Thai state. We can think of no other constitutional monarchy that is deemed to be in such an exalted position. At least the decision throws out one of the favorite lines from royalists about lese majeste: that the law is just like civil defamation proceedings. Such a comparison can never be made again as Article 112 is shown to be “special.” The court also makes itself an important protector of the legal bedrock of the Thai state and monarchy and the repression necessary to maintain their current forms.


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