Committee begins amnesty bill study

Committee begins amnesty bill study

A special House committee studying an amnesty bill expects to produce its findings within 60 days, its spokesman Somkid Chueakong said.

This comes as the House of Representatives last week agreed to set up the committee, which consists of a 35-member panel. Proposed by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, it comprises eight cabinet representatives and 27 others from various parties.

Mr Somkid, who is also the prime minister’s deputy secretary-general, said the committee held its first meeting yesterday to choose its chairman and other positions as well as discuss a broad framework for how it will function.

However, the committee has not considered the amnesty bill in detail yet, he said, adding that it will meet every Thursday.

The House has given the committee 60 days to finish its study, but if the study is not finished within the given period, the committee will seek a time extension, Mr Somkid said.

He added that the committee will consider every version of the amnesty bill, including a version that will be proposed by the civic sector.

Chusak Sirinil, a deputy Pheu Thai leader who is the committee’s chairman, said the committee will invite experts on issues related to amnesty and reconciliation to share their opinions and experiences.

They include former attorney-general Khanit Na Nakhon and Gothom Arya, an adviser to the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies.

“There is a major issue that the committee must consider — to what extent an amnesty bill should cover,” Mr Chusak said.

“The committee must study what political offences should be absolved as well as the periods of time and individuals that the amnesty would cover,” he said.

Asked whether the amnesty bill will cover those who committed offences violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, Mr Chusak said that the committee must listen to opinions from all sides before making a decision.

“Don’t jump to any conclusions [as to whether the amnesty bill will cover lese majeste law offenders or not]. We’ll have to consider every aspect carefully first,” he said.

A Move Forward Party MP, Karunpol Thiansuwan, previously said any amnesty bill should seek to absolve lese majeste offences.