6 opposition parties have issued a statement backing the call for the reform of the judicial system made by monarchy reform activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong, who have been on a dry hunger strike since 18 January, but did not respond to their demand for political parties to back the repeal of the royal defamation and sedition laws.
A banner calling for the reform of the judicial system hanging from the Pathumwan Skywalk during a protest on 26 January.
The joint statement was issued on 26 January by Pheu Thai, Move Forward, Seri Ruam Thai, Prachachart, Puea Chat, and Thai People Power parties. It raised concerns about the two activists’ condition, and said that, in order to revolve the current situation, the government, the Ministry of Justice, and the courts should hold public hearings to collect opinion on how the judicial system should be reformed, from people affected by the current judicial process, legal experts, human rights organizations, and political parties.
It also called on the court of justice to stand by the principles of presumption of innocence and judges’ independence, and must ensure that defendants in political cases are given their rights in the judicial process, and must also have their bail requests considered fairly.
“The opposition parties believe that these initial proposals will prevent further crisis of faith in the judicial process. Restoring people’s trust in the judicial process will be the last obstacle to ending conflict in society,” said the statement.
The statement triggered some criticism after it was released for not mentioning the royal defamation law, when Tantawan and Orawan also called for political parties to back the repeal of the royal defamation and sedition laws. The Progressive Movement’s Secretary-General Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a former lecturer at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law and former MP from the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, posted on Twitter a call for the Move Forward Party to continue its campaign for amendment of the royal defamation law and amnesty for student activists and protesters.
He also wrote that the parties coming together might create unity, but it could also reinforce the idea that the repeal or amendment of the royal defamation law is not possible, and asked whether it will never been possible to change the royal defamation law through parliamentary methods.
Piyabutr called on the Move Forward party, which was formed by Future Forward MPs who were not banned from politics, to try harder to demand either the amendment or repeal of the royal defamation law and an end to the prosecution of young activists. He wrote that they should stop caring about the result of the upcoming election and becoming part of a government coalition and ask themselves what the party was formed for. He also questioned why the party should join other politicians and reinforce the idea that it was not possible to change the royal defamation law when the situation has changed.