Courts brook no criticism

30 08 2019

In recent years, the Constitutional Court has been highly politicized. It has made all kinds of decisions that are barely recognizable as legal in any fair or impartial sense. Despite decisions that have been brazenly biased, the court is keen to police any effort to call it out.

This is why the court has blown a gasket over recent commentaries that have annoyed.

A recent Prachatai report commented on a social media storm that had erupted over the judicial harassment of Associate Professor Kovit Wongsurawat, a political scientist at Kasetsart University. He had “received a letter from the Office of the Constitutional Court summoning him to meet the Secretary-General of the Office over an ‘inappropriate’ tweet.”

Yes, a tweet! That tiny comment was posted on 26 June 2019 when Kovit “said that the Constitutional Court is ‘beyond shameless’ for accepting a petition about 32 MPs who hold shares in media companies, but not suspending them.”

Obviously, Kovit was comparing this favorable treatment of the military-backed government’s MPs when compared with opposition MPs and candidates.

But it got worse. The Bangkok Post reports that Sarinee Achavanuntakul, an independent academic and columnist, “has been served with a summons for contempt of court…”. This time a “civil case involving contempt of court by publication was filed by Supradit Jeensawake, secretary of the Supreme Court’s Election Cases Division.”

Sarinee’s case “refers to the Prachachon 2.0 (People 2.0) column titled Perils of Excessive Rule by Law (revisited), Case of Media Shareholding by MP Candidates … published in Krungthep Turakit newspaper on May 14, 2019.”

A copy of a memorandum by Mr Supradit to Jinda Pantachote, chief of the division, who approved the proceedings, was also attached.

In the article “Sarinee cited as an example of the dangers of excessive use of rule by law a case in Sakon Nakhon in which the court banned a FFP MP candidate from running in March.” She made the obvious point that the court was dim in its “interpretation” of “media business” and pointed how how this “interpretation” could lead to ridiculous uses of the law.

She is now accused of contempt of court.

The courts offer little “blind justice.” Rather, they offer undeniable support for the ruling class. Protecting lopsided justice means the courts are also policing their critics.


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6 12 2020
Judicial intimidation and repression | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] have known for some time that the loyalist Constitutional Court brooks no criticism. However, its recent political decision allowing Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s free gifts from the […]