A network of 13 civil society organizations is planning to propose an amnesty bill for those facing charges for taking part in political protests since 2006, including those charged with royal defamation.
Network representatives at the launch (Photo from the Network for People's Amnesty)
The Network for People’s Amnesty announced on Sunday (19 November) that it is planning to propose a “People’s Amnesty” bill in the hope of reducing political conflict.
Network representative Phattranit Yaodam said during Sunday’s press conference that the high number of activists and protesters being prosecuted shows that political institutions are no longer under the rule of law. Granting amnesty would not only give those charged their original status but also give these institutions the opportunity to reform themselves and build a structure for justice.
Phattranit explained that an amnesty is not outside the boundary of the law, but is part of a person’s right to be remedied by the state, their right to access the justice system, and the right to know the truth about what happened. This is in accordance with international law, Phattranit said, noting that not all charges can be dropped and that crimes like genocide, torture, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killing cannot be included in an amnesty bill.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the bill will grant amnesty to those facing charges for participating in political protests from 19 September 2006 to the date on which the law comes into effect. However, charges filed against state officials involved in protests, such as during crackdown operations, will not be dropped so that they will not be given impunity if their actions were disproportionate.
Under this bill, those facing charges under NCPO orders, regulations issued under the Emergency Decree, the 2016 Constitutional Referendum Act, the royal defamation law, and other charges related to participating in protests will automatically be granted amnesty.
The case of anyone who did not directly participate in a protest but was charged for calling for resistance against the state or state operations, protest, or other forms of expression that endanger the life, liberty, property, or reputation of another person will have to be considered by an amnesty committee before charges against them can be dropped.
The committee will be made up of:
1. the House Speaker,
2. the opposition leader,
3. the government chief whip,
4. 10 members of parliament,
5. a representative of citizens prosecuted after the 2006 coup,
6. a representative of citizens prosecuted during the 2009-2010 protests,
7. a representative of citizens prosecuted after the 2014 coup,
8. a representative of citizens prosecuted for participating in the 2020-2023 protests, and
9. two representatives of civil society organizations working on fact-finding and justice.
Phattranit said that amnesty is the minimal standard for eliminating conflict from society and is part of transitional justice. If this can be achieved, the country will return to normalcy. She also said that other measures that a government can take include fact-finding on human rights violations, compensation for those affected, and guarantees that no similar human rights violations will happen again, by actions such as amending laws and political reform.