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While Thailand’s junta leader has enacted an order halting the trial of civilians in military courts, the deputy junta head has said this order could be nullified if ‘instability’ returns.     

On 13 September 2016, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy junta head and Defence Minister, said that Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, has shown his commitment to a democratic system of governance by authorising the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 55/2016.

The order states that all cases related to crimes against national security, which are covered under Articles 107 to 118 of the Criminal Code and some other NCPO orders and announcements, will no longer be tried by military courts.

The junta leader invoked authority under Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, which grants the junta absolute power, to enact the order.  

However, Prawit told media that if ‘control’ slips out of the NCPO’s hands and ‘instability’ returns, the regime could nullify the order at any time.

The Defence minister added that the regime still has Section 44 of the Interim Constitution to handle ‘conflicts’.

Visanu Krua-Ngam, Deputy Prime Minister, told media that the order is not retroactive. Therefore, cases which currently being handled by military courts will not be transferred to the Court of Justice.

He added crimes related to national security in the restive Deep South will still be tried by military courts as the Martial Law that has been imposed in the region for more than a decade is still in place.

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