Constitutional Court confirms PM’s power to ban demonstrations
The Constitutional Court has ruled to confirm that the prime minister is empowered by the emergency decree to ban demonstrations.
The court voted 8:1 on Wednesday to rule that the prime minister can invoke the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations BE 2548 (2005) to ban protests and demonstrations.
The court had convened a meeting to decide whether Section 9 (2) and Section 11 (6) of the emergency decree contradict the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court took up the issue upon request by Piyarat Jongthep, a suspect who was tried at Dusit District Court for allegedly breaking the emergency decree by leading a protest in defiance of the ban. The court forwarded the request to the Constitutional Court for a final decision.
Piyarat argued that Section 9 (2) and Section 11 (6) of the emergency decree violated the Constitution that guarantees the people’s right of free expression so he cannot be convicted by the Dusit District Court.
But the Constitutional Court ruled that the two sections, which empowered the prime minister to ban protests and demonstrations in a situation of violence and terror attacks, did not contradict the charter.
Section 9 (2) states that:
“In the case of necessity in order to remedy and promptly resolve an emergency situation or to prevent the worsening of such a situation, the Prime Minister shall have the power to issue the following regulations:
…(2) to prohibit the assembly or gathering of persons at any place or the commission of any act which may cause unrest.”
Section 11 (6) states that:
“In the case where an emergency situation involves terrorism, use of force, harm to life, body or property, or there are reasonable grounds to believe that there exists a severe act which affects the security of state, the safety of life or property of the state or person, and there is a necessity to resolve the problem in an efficient and timely manner, the Prime Minister, upon the approval of the Council of Ministers, shall have the power to declare that such an emergency situation is a serious situation, and the provisions of section 5 and section 6 paragraph two shall apply mutatis mutandis. Upon a declaration under paragraph one, in addition to powers section 9 and section 10, the Prime Minister shall also have the following powers:
…(6) to issue a notification on the prohibition of any act or any instruction to perform an act to the extent that is necessary for maintaining the security of the state, the safety of the country or the safety of the people.”