A group of what The Nation describes as “high-profile human rights advocates and former senators” has “lodged a petition with the Ombudsman’s Office, seeking the nullification of the newly enacted referendum act, claiming it violates the interim constitution.”
The group was “led by former senator and director of Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) Jon Ungphakorn…”. The group “asked the Constitutional Court via the Ombudsman’s Office to look at the second and fourth clauses under Article 61 of the Act. He said the clauses in question violate Article 4 of the interim charter, which guarantees freedom of expression.”
The group’s petition was “signed by 100 law experts, academics and human rights advocates” who stated that the act’s language was vague and broad, preventing people from knowing which “actions can be considered illegal.” Of course, this is exactly what the military junta intended as the act is meant to intimidate critics.
The group also declared the penalties as overly harsh, stating that “[e]xpressing one’s views in a ‘rude or aggressive’ manner may be inappropriate, but it should not be taken as a violation of law…”.
Jon stated that several clauses in the act are meant to “discourage the general public and the media to voice their opinions on the draft.” He added: “We have no intention to overturn the August referendum, but just want people to be able to arrange debates on the draft during the lead-up to the referendum…”.
Former National Human Rights Commissioner and the ex-senator Niran Pithakwatchara said the referendum may end up being a waste as, by its nature, a “referendum aims to hear people’s voices, so why is the law discouraging people from speaking out”? He added that “[f]ear has spread throughout the country and is harming democracy…”.
Of course, there is no democracy in Thailand and the military’s charter is not meant to achieve it.