Mon, November 29, 2021


Legal experts warn Article 44 remains major impediment

UNLESS the absolute power of Article 44 and existing National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) orders are revoked, citizens will still face a struggle to protect the environment and their rights, legal experts say.

As the new constitution came into effect yesterday, legal experts who work with environmental groups and community rights campaigners expressed concerns that there was still a tough fight ahead to push forward with sustainable development and people’s rights.
“Life under the new constitution for the people who fight to protect their communities and the rights to manage their livelihoods will still remain tough. Moreover, they will have to fight harder to get the government to protect their rights and the environment,” Sor Rattanamanee Polkla, a lawyer from Community Resource Centre Foundation, said.
“Things will be more difficult for community rights campaigners if the NCPO orders are still active even under a democratic government, because there are many NCPO orders which severely violate people’s rights and diminish environmental protection in favour of large projects.”
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party leading figure Watana Muangsook yesterday called on the government to limit its use of absolute power via Article 44 of the interim charter. However, he added that whether or not the junta would stop exercising its absolute power would depend on how much moral sense they had.
With a new constitution being promulgated, the politician called on the current administration to take a caretaker role while preparing to “pass the baton” to a new government to be formed after the next election.
He warned that if the junta continued using such power, it would be difficult for future government to work.
Pheu Thai was ready to contest the election, Watana said. But he added that something worrisome for the party was possible use of absolute power during the election campaigning and possible rejection of the election result.
Surachai Throngngam, EnLawThai Foundation secretary-general, agreed that environmental protection would remain difficult if the absolute power of NCPO orders were still guaranteed, even if there is a new constitution.
“According to the temporary provisions of the new constitution, the NCPO orders will continue their effectiveness under the new government. They will be revoked only when there is a new law to make them inactive,” Surachai informed.
He warned that if the NCPO orders are preserved, the rule of law under the new constitution will not be effective as the government can use the absolute power to rule the country.
He said that many NCPO orders were problematic. As an example, order 3/2558, which strictly controls activism within the Kingdom, will make people’s efforts to fight for their rights a difficult task and make them liable for prosecution.
Sor Rattanamanee said the new constitution removed community rights from the citizen’s rights section as the government’s duty and people would have to demand that the government protects their rights.
“In the 2007 constitution, the |people could cite their rights directly from the constitution, as it was stated in the citizen’s rights section that all people had the right to participate on local resource management and to live in a healthy environment,” |she said.
“However, as these rights were transferred to the government’s |duty, we have no guarantee that the government will protect the people’s rights and people may have to |petition the government.”

Published : April 06, 2017