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NRC's reconciliation committee endorses study on ending political conflict

Jul 03. 2015
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The reconciliation study committee under the National Reform Council yesterday endorsed a study by a subcommittee about recommendations to end the political deadlock, including the possible use of amnesty.

The move opened the way for recommendations being deliberated and voted on by NRC members and potentially being forwarded to concerned agencies, including the Cabinet, for implementation, said committee chairman Anek Laothammathat.

The NRC vote on the recommendations is expected on August 11, he added.

Asst Prof Poom Moolsilpa, one of the committee’s members and constitution drafter, said that in relation to amnesty the committee would recommend that wrongdoers in past political conflicts be separated from ordinary demonstrators.

For ordinary demonstrators, Poom said, the committee has suggested they be divided into three groups – those who were politically motivated, those who committed serious crimes, and those committed both.

For those who were politically motivated, Poom said the committee suggested applying existing laws including legislation issued in 2001 that made amnesty legitimate.

The second and the third groups had to go through normal legal procedures but may be able to ask for amnesty based on their normal legal rights.

These three groups of ordinary demonstrators could also be treated under the new reconciliation law’s transitional justice principle, Poom added.

For leaders or high-ranking officers responsible for giving directives or policies, Poom said they would be treated under the new law, which would come with certain conditions.

The first and foremost condition was that they must apologise publicly and victims must give them forgiveness, which was a precondition for amnesty for this group before other proceedings followed, including compensation as well as restructure of their agencies to ensure that wrongdoings would not occur again.

The new law, however, would have some exceptions and not be enforced on those committing corruption, those committing lese majeste, as well as severe human rights violations such as killings and possessing weapons.

Buntoon Sretsirote, another committee member stressed that amnesty is only one of the key recommendations that would help bring peace to society again.

“If the government sees that it is helpful, they can take it, but there are other recommendations that have touched upon fundamental problems,” said Poom.

Five other key recommendations are forging a better understanding of past political conflicts among members of the public; fact finding and delivering information at the right time; compensation; promoting an environment that supports co-living, including ongoing major reform; and implementing preventative measures against violence.

Anek said the problem with Thai society was not just about having or not having democracy or economic problems, but also reconciliation, and that was the reason why the committee rushed to finish its study so it could hopefully show the way out of conflicts.

He said he was worried about the emerging conflict between the 14 students and the government and would like to volunteer to help talk with the students to help resolve the confrontation.

“I personally believe these students had an innocent intent [based on information received that they were those going out upcountry to help villagers fight for justice in a mine project]. Anything that we can do to help with the time we have left before being dissolved along with the NRC, we wish to help,” he said.

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