Not responsible ‘due to caretaker role’
The caretaker government does not have to take responsibility after the Constitutional Court invalidated the executive decree suspending four provisions of the anti-torture law, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
Mr Wissanu, who is the government’s top legal expert, explained that the term of the government that issued the decree ended in March when the House of Representatives was dissolved. Had the government’s term not ended, it would have had to step down or dissolve the House to show responsibility following the court ruling, he said.
While any individual minister in charge of initiating the provisions may step down from the post, the caretaker government itself cannot resign as it must carry on its duty as constitutionally required to avoid leaving the country in a power vacuum, he said.
Mr Wissanu’s comments were in response to civil rights groups’ calls for the government to account for the provisions being invalidated.
The Constitutional Court ruled last week that the move to postpone the enforcement of Sections 22–25 of the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act until Oct 1 this year violated Section 172 of the constitution.
He insisted that even before the Constitutional Court passed its ruling, the Royal Thai Police (RTP) had anticipated the anti-torture law coming into effect and had been making preparations, such as acquiring the tools needed to enforce the law.
The Office of the Court of Justice, meanwhile, has issued an urgent letter instructing courts of first instance to operate outside normal working hours to facilitate the enforcement of the anti-torture law. The letter cites Sections 24 and 26 of the law in which relevant individuals can submit a petition to a court seeking disclosure of information about those detained by authorities if they suspect or witness torture or enforced disappearance.
Also, Chaowalit Wichayasuth, a member of the Thai Sang Thai Party, on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down following the court ruling.
“When the Constitutional Court rules [the decree is against the charter], Gen Prayut, as head of the cabinet, should take political responsibility without waiting for a petition seeking his ouster,” he said.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a former EC member turned chief strategist of the Seri Ruam Thai Party, suggested that a petition should be lodged with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against the Prayut administration over the decree.
Angkhana Neelaphaijit, a human rights activist, on Tuesday urged people who are affected by the incomplete enforcement of the decree to seek compensation.
Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Cross Cultural Foundation director and rights activist, said equipping police with body cameras would improve transparency.