Thai constitution would grant military immunity

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Nov. 24 that a proposed provision in Thailand's constitution would permit the nation's military to commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment, in violation of international treaties. A new constitutional provision before Thailand's legislative body, known as the the junta, or the National Council for Peace and Order, would exculpate the use of force by military personnel if the conduct is "carried out with honest intention" in the interest of national security. HRW referred to the constitutional amendment as a "license to kill." HRW acknowledged that Thailand's military forces have acted with impunity for decades, but stated: "International human rights treaties ratified by Thailand make clear that status as a government official does not permit immunity for serious rights violations. In addition, Thailand has international legal obligations to ensure the right to an effective remedy for victims of serious violations, including unlawful killings."

Following the military coup in Thailand in May 2014, human rights groups have expressed concern over the growing climate of impunity. The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia this week urged Thailand to immediately close a military detention center in Bangkok where two high-profile inmates have died in the last month. Additionally, the UN office called for the end of military detention facilities that are being used to hold civilian prisoners. In October, Thailand's military government appointed a committee to write a new constitution after a previous draft was rejected the month before. In May of this year Thailand's military government announced it would hold a referendum on a new constitution, delaying the general elections scheduled for mid-2016.

From Jurist, Nov. 25. Used with permission.