Understanding the National Security Act

This ICJ report presents a comprehensive assessment of Thailand’s Internal Security Act (“ISA”) from the perspective of international law and standards.

The report is timely in that the ISA is increasingly being invoked to address a variety of potential security issues. Seven times in the second half of 2009 alone, the Thai Cabinet declared exceptional powers under the ISA to be in force.

The increased use of the ISA raises important issues of human rights and democratic governance, especially given the current realities of political polarisation in the country.

The Royal Thai Government is justified in enacting and enforcing laws to protect the security of its citizens. Indeed, this is one of the crucial responsibilities of any government.

However, such security measures must be taken in compliance with the rule of law and international human rights obligations. Experience from around the world, including Southeast Asia, shows that these laws are often used to empower executive authority and security forces, suppress political opposition and undermine the rights of citizens.

As a result, the ICJ is concerned about how Thailand intends to strike a balance between security and rights protection through the ISA.

Thailand-understanding Security Act-analysis brief-2010 (full text in English, PDF)

Thailand-understanding Security Act-analysis brief-2010 (full text in Thai, PDF)

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