Opinion: Three Disturbing Legal Decisions Highlight Erosion of Rule of Law in the Country

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Three decisions from yesterday showed that this country currently has no rule of law to uphold.

One court ruling saw human rights lawyer turned pro-democracy activist Anon Nampha sentenced to another 4 years in jail for lese-majeste, due to his social media posts calling for the reformation of the royal institution. Previously, he had been sentenced to 4 years in jail for making a political speech on the same issue.

Meanwhile, another court ruling saw 28 former core members of the now-defunct People’s Alliance for Democracy walking away from jail because the court deemed that individuals who led sieges on international airports do not deserve to be incarcerated.

Although 11 of them have already been forced into bankruptcy following the Civil Court’s order for them to pay 522 million baht for the damages inflicted on the airports, the absence of a jail term for this clear act of terrorism is ridiculous. The meager fine of 20,000 baht for trespassing, instead of a jail term for treason, was essentially a joke at best.

The last decision that rocked the boat yesterday was the Department of Corrections’ announcement that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be eligible for parole soon.

While his charges were likely politically motivated, and he was unable to defend himself due to self-exile, there were also allegations of corruption that led to his 8-year sentence. The move to create this show, with him getting a royal pardon and “serving time” at a hospital to eventually serve his remaining time at home, is a slap in the face for anyone who believes that there is still some justice left in this country.

If such a practice for inmates who are elderly and ill to be incarcerated in a premium ward at a hospital outside prison is supposed to be offered for every inmate, then why was an elderly cancer patient, Ampon “A-Kong” Tangnoppakul, left to die in jail just because he allegedly sent 4 messages deemed as royal defamation to another person’s telephone?

Many cases in the past, such as the Red Bull heir case, have already shown that jail cells in this country are reserved for poor and powerless people only. They also demonstrated that anyone who went against the conservative establishment will go to jail simply because they dared to speak out against repression and injustice.

The three decisions yesterday only cemented these facts.


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