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EU criticizes detention policy, military courts in Thailand

February 13, 2015 GMT

BANGKOK (AP) — Representatives of the European Union expressed concern over Thailand’s use of detention without charge and having civilians tried in military courts, adding to mounting criticism of justice under the Southeast Asian nation’s military rule.

Their statement echoed an appeal by Human Rights Watch calling for the military-appointed legislature to reject a proposal to allow the armed forces to hold civilians without charge for almost three months.


The New York-based group also said that trying civilians for some offenses in military courts violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. The junta instituted the practice after staging a coup last May.

“The proposed amendment is just the junta’s latest broken promise to return the country to rights-respecting, democratic rule,” said the head of the group’s Asia division, Brad Adams. “Enshrining detention without charge and military trials of civilians will perpetuate dictatorship — not democracy — in Thailand.”

The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists last month described the military’s affirmation of its right to try civilians as “a serious setback for human rights.” Similar concerns have been raised by the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The junta has said it will hold elections in early 2016, but has shown no sign of easing repressive policies launched at the time of the coup. It maintains martial law, saying the political situation remains unstable, despite a paucity of open opposition.

The military’s unstated goal is to break the back of the political machine led by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whom it deposed in 2006 with accusations of abuse of power and disrespect for the monarchy. Thaksin’s supporters believe the traditional Thai ruling class fears it is losing influence to Thaksin and his allies, who have won every national election since 2001.