Rights groups condemn junta police powers for Thai soldiers

Rights groups condemn junta police powers for Thai soldiers

BANGKOK – Agence France-Presse
Rights groups condemn junta police powers for Thai soldiers

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (L) and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice take part in a security in Asia-Pacific plenary session during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the Sunnylands estate on February 16, 2016 in Rancho Mirage, California - AFP photo

An order by Thailand’s junta giving sweeping police powers to soldiers is part of the “steady erosion of human rights protections,” campaigners said April 5, calling for the law to be rescinded.

Last week the junta government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha issued an executive order awarding all soldiers ranked sub-lieutenant or higher the power to detain suspects for up to a week for a raft of different crimes.

The military said the order was necessary to follow through on their vow to crack down on “mafia figures,” adding there were not enough police officers to do the job.

But the move has been criticized by rights groups who say it is a new judicial power grab by a military government that has clamped down on dissent since seizing power just under two years ago.

In a joint statement released April 5, six groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists, condemned the move.

“We have observed a steady erosion of human rights protections in Thailand since the military coup of 22 May 2014 and this order signifies another jarring movement in the same direction,” said Wilder Tayler, secretary general of the ICJ.

The comments were echoed by Brad Adams, Asia Director at HRW.

“Instead of paving the way for a return to democratic rule, the Thai junta has broadened its powers to do almost anything it wants, including committing abuses with total impunity,” he said.

The U.S. embassy in Bangkok said Washington also had “concerns” about the order.