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The Constitutional Court has ordered the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) to submit new documents in support of its petition for the dissolution of the Move Forward Party (MFP) as some were unclear. Meanwhile, human rights organizations have condemned the ECT’s decision to seek the party’s dissolution.

Move Forward Party supporters gathered around the stage during an event at Central World ahead of the Prime Minister vote in July 2023.

After the Constitutional Court ruled on 31 January that campaigns put forward by MFP and its former leader Pita Limjaroenrat to amend the royal defamation law are treasonous, the ECT decided to file a petition with the Constitutional Court seeking the party’s dissolution and the disqualification of its executive board members.

The Constitutional Court issued a press release yesterday (20 March) stating that some documents filed by the ECT were unclear and that it has ordered the ECT to submit new documents within 7 days. 

Meanwhile, international human rights organizations issued statements condemning the ECT’s decision. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) member and Malaysian MP Kelvin Yii said that the APHR is “appalled” by the ECT’s decision to seek the MFP’s dissolution for advocating for legal reform. 

“Such a dissolution would not only violate MFP politicians’ right to freedom of expression, it would disenfranchise the 14 million Thai people that voted for the party in last year’s elections in what would be a clear subversion of democracy,” Yii said.

“Equating proposals to review legislation - a core function of parliament - with efforts to ‘overthrow the monarchy’ is preposterous and undermines the integrity of the parliamentary process. How can parliamentarians perform their duty to act as checks and balances if their party is at constant risk of dissolution?”

The APHR calls on the Thai Constitutional Court to “uphold the will of the Thai people and protect the integrity of Thailand’s democratic process by rejecting this absurd petition.” 

Fortify Rights also calls on the government to prevent MFP’s dissolution, referring to the ECT’s decision as a “drastic political move contradicting Thailand’s bid for membership on the UN Human Rights Council.” 

Matthew Smith, Fortify Rights’ Chief Executive Officer, said that UN member states should not vote for Thailand to join the UN Human Rights Council if it goes ahead of with dissolving MFP. 

“There is a discrepancy between the country’s international aspirations and internal political realities. The dissolution of the party, which has a strong democratic mandate, would undermine Thailand’s qualifications for any role on the Human Rights Council,” he said.

Fortify Rights also calls on the Thai authorities to decriminalize all forms of defamation, noting that imprisonment for defamation is considered “disproportionate, excessive, and unnecessary” under international law and would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. 

“14.4 million Thai voters democratically support the MFP,” said Smith. “The efforts to dissolve the party are political in every sense. Thailand must ensure that its election commission remains impartial, that its democracy is sound, and it must protect freedom of expression and association for all without fear of reprisal.”

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