International rights groups have criticized the Thai government’s imminent use of absolute power under Article 44 of the interim constitution, with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) calling for a return to civilian authority and Human Rights Watch (HRW) urging foreign friends of Thailand not to be “fooled.”
In a statement on Wednesday (1 April 2015), HRW warned that the use of “unaccountable” power under Article 44 by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as leader of the coup-installed National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), would mark Thailand’s “deepening descent into dictatorship.”
“Thailand’s friends abroad should not be fooled by this obvious sleight of hand by the junta leader to replace martial law with a constitutional provision that effectively provides unlimited and unaccountable power,” warned Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW.
Meanwhile, ICJ secretary-general Wilder Tayler warned on Tuesday that Article 44 was drafted so broadly that “it could give the head of the junta even greater powers than martial law.”
“Article 44 would allow the head of the NCPO to issue any orders he wishes under the pretext of strengthening public unity and national security, and also deems any such order to be legal and constitutional, removing any possibility of judicial oversight,” he said.