NPDP pushes political amnesty bill in parliament

A bill seeking to grant amnesty to people prosecuted in political cases was submitted to parliament on Thursday by the New Palang Dhamma Party (NPDP), which aims to win support from MPs and pass the draft into law by the end of this House term.

Under the proposed law, which contains seven sections, anyone who committed political offences from Sept 19, 2006, to Nov 30 of this year, during political demonstrations, would be forgiven in criminal cases and freed from liability in civil lawsuits, said NPDP leader and list-MP Dr Rawee Machamadon.

The bill definitely doesn’t cover those found guilty of graft and other forms of corruption; serious criminal offences such as the shooting of state officials; or violations of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, he said.

The bill is clearly written to omit these types of serious misconduct to ensure it won’t be amended later during the deliberation to become a blanket amnesty as in the past, he said.

He apparently was referring to the controversial 2013 amnesty bill, which was initiated amid rising political tensions that year before it collapsed and led to the demise of the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The original version of that bill, put forward by former Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema, sought only to grant an amnesty to rank-and-file protesters, excluding the core leaders of the opposing political groups, between Sept 19, 2006, and May 10, 2011.

The bill was later revised by a House committee vetting it.

The revised version was seen as a blanket amnesty as it expanded the scope considerably, covering all people involved in political unrest, protest leaders and authorities, and in particular, the ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

The new bill stipulates that an amnesty screening committee comprising of no more than seven members be appointed to screen who will be granted amnesty and forward its decision, which would be deemed final, to the state agencies concerned to take action, said Dr Rawee.