Updated: On Article 44 and jobs for the junta’s boys

PPT has continued looking through material available for the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. For those interested in the review’s draft report and lists of recommendations, this is available at the UPR Extranet (https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/upr/Sessions/25session/Thailand/Pages/default.aspx) logging in [username: hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session].

In recent days we looked at two pieces of the Thailand country submission, one a Statement on Civil and Political Rights and the other a Statement on Military Court. Both were presented by members of the huge Thailand delegation.

Both are cut-and-paste jobs and poorly written. The first, for example, confuses a person acquitted under the lese majeste law with one who is convicted. That’s a remarkable error!

Or maybe a slip of the pen, for almost no one is acquitted under Article 112.

We were drawn back to the claims about Article 44. The delegation states:

On Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, the power authorized under Section 44 is not new in the history of Thai politics. During the past 50 years, article similar to Section 44 has appeared in other Interim Constitutions. Section 44 is invoked only under specific circumstances and has been used in a limited manner. Since its entry into force, the NCPO has exercised its power under this Section to maintain public order and to enhance bureaucratic efficiency where ordinary laws and regulations do not exist, such as in anti-human trafficking efforts, anti-drug policy, and civil aviation issues.

Even in this statement, it is evident that “limited manner” is a manipulation of the truth. It is not clear how “bureaucratic efficiency” requires a draconian decree like this. More recently, there is another example of the junta using Article 44 as an order that serves its interests and doing things that might otherwise be illegal (if Thailand were not a military dictatorship) and placing trusted operatives in key positions.

According to the Bangkok Post, the junta has used Article 44 for an appointment that has again “bypassed the screening process…”. The military junta has appointed Police General “Chaiya Siriamphunkul of the Royal Thai Police Office the new chief of the Anti-Money Laundering Office.”

The junta stated that it used Article 44 for this appointment to “facilitate the ‘urgent tasks’ carried out by the agency, while the selection process was ‘time-consuming’, according to the Royal Gazette” announcement.

Clearly, appointing a critical position in an agency such as AMLO should require a clean record and a “process,” but not for the junta, which wants control into the future and appoints trusted acolytes.

Chaiya has royal, Privy Council and business connections. He has a long record of anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activism. He has previously been entrusted with chairing the committee charged with removing Thaksin’s police rank and decorations. Obviously, this is another case of jobs for the junta’s boys and using Article 44 facilitates that and prevents any scrutiny.

Update: On misleading the UN, readers may find the account by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights useful. They take up 16 aspects where the junta’s delegation has lied, misrepresented or fudged.

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