The Civil Court abruptly aborted the trial process after “Prayuth” lifted the state of serious emergency. A new hearing date is set for 19 January 2021.

On 21 October 2020, six students from Chulalongkorn and Thammasat University, together with TLHR, filed a complaint on behalf of the people against General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, General Prawit Wongsuwan, and Police General Suwat Chaengyodsuk requesting the Court to revoke the announcement of the state of serious emergency, as well as all other relevant announcements and orders issued under it. In addition, they asked the Court for a temporary injunction and an urgent review. The Civil Court set a hearing for reading the order on the following day.

The complaint was accepted as the Court of Justice has a general jurisdiction. An appointment to clarify the dispute is set for next year.

The day after (22 October 20) at 9.20 am, Room 410, the Civil Court accepted the complaint for further deliberation on the grounds that the announcement of the state of serious emergency in Bangkok was an administrative order applicable to the general public. Since Section 16 of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, B.E. 2548 (2005) stipulates that orders and acts under the Emergency Decree are not subject to the Administrative Court and Section 188 appurtenant to Section 194 of the 2017 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand stipulates that the Court of Justice have the power to try and adjudicate all cases in general, the case of the six students is thus considered to be under the Court of Justice’s jurisdiction.

Thus, the Civil Court decided to accept the complaint and set the date to clarify the offences and determine the proceedings and/or witness hearings on 19 January 2021 at 9.00 am. On this day, the Court also allowed an urgent review for the plaintiffs. However, since Plaintiff No.1, a Chulalongkorn University student, had to report himself to the public prosecutor in the case of a gathering to give support to Panupong Jadnok and Anon Nampa in front of the Bang Khen Police Station at the beginning of August, the Court moved the hearing to 1.00 pm together with academics instead.

The Government lifts the state of serious emergency citing the easing and ending of the serious situation.

Before 12.00 pm, the Royal Gazette website published the announcement of the lifting of the announcement of the state of serious emergency in Bangkok, along with the relevant announcements, regulations, and orders. The key points include:

One, the announcement of the state of serious emergency in Bangkok dated 15 October 20 and the announcement of the state of serious emergency dated 16 October 20 shall be revoked.

Two, all regulations, announcements, and orders issued under the announcement of the state of serious emergency shall be terminated.

The reason for the lifting was “at present, the serious situation, for which the state of serious emergency was announced, has decreased in intensity and come to an end. The changing conditions have allowed the state officials and government agencies to enforce measures prescribed by ordinary laws to resolve issues”. The revocation is effective from 22 October 2020 at 12.00 pm onwards.

Urgent review canceled, request for temporary injunction withdrawn, claims of possible violations of rights and liberties due to the state of emergency rendered irrelevant.

At 2.15 pm, four judges took their seats in the courtroom and read out the order, saying General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, the Prime Minister, had already lifted the announcement of the state of serious emergency in Bangkok dated 15 October 2020 and the 2nd announcement of the state of serious emergency dated 16 October 2020 as well as related regulations, announcement, and orders issued under the said announcements. The revocation took effect from today (22 October 2020) at 12:00 pm onwards. Consequently, the request for temporary measures before trial and all urgent requests submitted by the plaintiffs, which claimed that the announcement of the state of serious emergency and related orders would violate the plaintiffs and the people’s rights and liberties for an extended period of time, have also become irrelevant. The revocation of the announcements of the state of serious emergency has prompted the Civil Court to refrain from conducting an urgent review of Plaintiff no. 1 and academics as well as withdraw the request for a pre-trial temporary injunction. The motives for deliberation according to the claim have thus been concluded.

The judges stressed that the Civil Court had already accepted the complaint and set a date to determine the case proceedings on 19 January 2021 at 9.00 am., before they left the courtroom.

On the same day in Room 802 at 10.00 am., the Civil Court accepted the complaint and conducted an urgent review to grant a pre-trial temporary injunction in the cases of Mr. Watchara Petchtong and others and of Dr. Chonnan Srikaew, who had filed a complaint to have the announcement of the state of emergency revoked. The Court set the date to read the order on this matter on 28 October 20.

Lawyers point out that revocation is not an annulment. The state could still justify its actions committed occurred prior to the lifting of the serious state of emergency.

Mr. Surachai Trongngam, a member of the Human Rights Lawyer Network from EnLAW Foundation, believes that the “lifting” of the state of serious emergency today is not equivalent to the “annulment” of the announcement of the state of serious emergency, which was what the students requested from the Civil Court.

This is because the lifting would allow the state officials to claim that the orders and measures issued and undertaken after 15 October 2020 were lawful. These include the dispersal of the rally on 16 October 2020 with high-pressure water cannons mixed with chemicals and the arrests and detention of the students and citizens at the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters from 15 October until today.

Hence, the students need to carry on with the lawsuit, so that the Court can investigate and deliberate whether the announcement of the state of serious emergency was unlawful in the first place or not. Furthermore, the state must remedy the damages by revoking the arrest warrants and immediately releasing demonstrators who were charged with violating the Emergency Decree. Other criminal charges related to the announcement of the state of serious emergency must also be extinguished at once.

In this case, 8 human rights laws organizations, namely Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), EnLAW Foundation, Human Rights Lawyers Association, Muslim Attorney Centre, Legal Rights, and Environmental Protection Association, iLaw, and Union for Civil Liberty have joined the students to file the complaint.

 

Cover photo courtesy to https://thestandard.co/

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