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Thailand – Southeast Asia Security Laws

The Interim Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (2014) is implemented after a Coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). It contains 48 provisions.

Section 4 is the only one provision stating that human dignity, rights, liberty and equality existing international commitments of Thailand shall be protected.

Furthermore, it establishes a National Legislative Assembly, which plays all roles of house of representatives, senates and parliament. (Section 6)

The Head of the NCPO is given the absolute to give any order deemed necessary for the benefit of reform in any field and to strengthen public unity and harmony, or for the prevention, disruption or suppression of any act which undermines public peace and order or national security, the Monarchy, national economics or administration of State affairs. The Constitution also provides that any such order is deemed to be legal, constitutional and conclusive. (Section 44)

Section 47 provides that all NCPO announcements and orders given since the coup and up until the National Council of Ministers takes office regardless of their legislative, executive or judicial force which are also deemed to be legal, constitutional and conclusive.

Section 48 states that all acts of the NCPO in relation to the coup, as well as any acts of persons connected to the NCPO’s acts, if the acts are illegal, those related persons shall be exempted from being offenders and shall be exempted from all accountabilities.

The Criminal Procedure Code (1934, 2008) provides the rules of procedure for all the stages of the judicial process. The Special Case Investigation Act – B.E. 2547 (2004) establishes the roles and duties of Department of Special Investigation officials and provides them powers to investigate criminal cases that are complex or concern, among other issues, national security.

The Criminal Code (1956) is the primary source of criminal laws in the country. Among the acts prohibited under the Criminal Code are those that are deemed to be offenses relating to the security of the Kingdom (Book II Title I), which include the lèse majesté (section 112). Acts constituting illegal assembly are prohibited in sections 215 and 216. The Criminal Code also includes “Offense relating to Causing Public Danger” (Book II Title VI) and “the Offense in Respect of Terrorization” (Book II Title I/I).

The Computer-Related Offences Commission Act (2007) contains provisions that describe acts constituting “cybercrimes”. It also lays out the powers and responsibilities of the government in enforcing this law. Section 14 proscribes inputting false computer data in a manner likely to injure national security, as well as inputting computer data that commits an offense relating to national security or terrorism according to the penal code, including lèse majesté offenses. Section 15 permits liability of Internet service providers. Section 16 criminalizes defamation using computer systems. Section 18 provides government officials extensive powers to seize suspects’ computer data, and section 20 allows courts to block websites allegedly violating the Act.

The Anti-Money Laundering Act, B.E. 2542 (1999) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act, No. 2, B.E. 2551 (2008) criminalize and establish procedures to prevent money laundering. The Prevention and Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act, B.E. 2556 (2013) provides a definition of terrorism and regulates terrorist financing.

The Martial Law Order (1914, 1985) permits the King to declare martial law. It also allows military commanders to declare martial law in times of war over specific areas, granting the military substantial powers to restrict citizens’ rights.

The Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, B.E. 2548 (2005) allows the Prime Minister, with the consent of the Council of Ministers, to declare an emergency situation in areas of the country (section 5). Such a declaration grants the Prime Minister or an appointee substantial powers, including the capacity to limit civil liberties (sections 9 and 10), and allows “competent official[s]” to detain individuals for up to thirty days (section 12). The detention powers under section 12 have been utilized substantially, and often arbitrarily, for interrogations and to compel over a thousand people to attend “citizens’ improvement camps.”

The Internal Security Act (2008) (ISA) provides the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), headed by the Prime Minister and the army Chief of Staff, broad powers to monitor, investigate and evaluate information regarding internal security and to direct internal security operations (part 1). The ISA allows the Cabinet to declare the ISOC responsible for preventing and suppressing occurrences that affect national security but that do not rise to the level of a state of emergency (section 15).