Several media, including the Bangkok Post, have headlined The Dictator’s decision to “stop the use of the Military Court for security offences,” as some kind of “loosening.”
While we are pleased that the dictatorial use of the military courts has gone, we point out that General Prayuth Chan-ocha invoked the dictatorial Article 44 to end the practice.
To be honest, we have no idea why he has had to use this Article to eliminate a practice invoked by the junta after the 2014 coup.
It is important to note that the change “does not apply to existing cases but only to offences committed from Monday onward.”
The offenses covered by the change are all cases involving Articles 110 to 118 of the Criminal Code, and this includes lese majeste, sedition and “violations of the NCPO’s [the junta’s] announcements or orders (illegal assembly, failure to report to the NCPO, debt collection, supporting political meetings)…”.
But the change does not change the role that the military plays in civil cases. Military officers “remain competent officials alongside police in these cases. This means soldiers can still arrest and detain suspects in these cases for questioning for up to seven days before sending them to police.”
One reason the media has seen a “loosening” is the junta’s own declaration of an “improving situation as the reason for the [so-called] relaxation.” The junta crows:
Over the past two years, peace and order have gradually be restored, with people cooperating well to bring the country forward for sustainable development, reform and fair reconciliation….
It means its repression has been “successful.” This is seen in its claim of the “overwhelming endorsement of the draft constitution.” It also babbles about “human rights.”