Monday, September 12, 2016

Thai junta dials back on military trials

The ruling junta in Thailand is dialing back on military trials of civilians, but cases already in the military courts will stay there. Details here. Excerpt:
Civilians accused of royal defamation and other security offences will no longer be tried in military courts, the junta said Monday, rolling back a heavily-criticised practice introduced after their 2014 coup. 
Since the coup, breaches of a tough royal defamation law and other national security crimes have been punishable in military courts, presided over by a bench of officers. 
Those courts have imposed severe sentences including record jail terms for civilians of up to 30 years for alleged lèse majesté
But on Monday the junta said an August referendum vote endorsing their new constitution has allowed them to ease their grip on the legal system -- in a sign of the junta's increasing confidence that it has its political opponents under control. 
"For the past two years, the country has been in peace. People have co-operated in ... the steps to reform which saw the peaceful referendum," according to the order signed by junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha and published in the Royal Gazette
With the new charter to soon come into effect, the junta is repealing three orders allowing for the trial of civilians in military court, the statement added. 
Among other crimes, those orders covered allegations of lèse majesté, sedition and possession of war weapons. 
The changes come into effect immediately, but do not apply to civilians currently being processed by martial courts or offences committed before Monday's edict. 
That means dozens of people still face military justice.
The Bangkok Post has further specifics here.

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