Twenty-four Months of Rule by the NCPO: The Exercise of Military Power Over the Judicial System

During the two years in which the NCPO has held power, they have chosen to relentlessly suppress those who dissent against their rule. This suppression occurs through the application of both ordinary and special laws.
For example, Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crimes Act have been used expansively and in excess of the letter of the law. Clicking “like” on Facebook, responding to a message from another individual without condemning him, and even making posts on Facebook that mock the rulers of the country are all actions which have led to accusations of being a “danger to national security.” Many additional special laws have been promulgated by the junta, such as the announcement prohibiting political demonstrations and the announcement for civilians to appear in military court. By the second anniversary of the coup, there are at least 67 people who have been charged with violating Article 112 and at least 85 people who have been charged with participating in political demonstrations.
After martial law was revoked, it was replaced by Head of the NCPO Order No. 3/2558, which was issued under the authority of Article 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution. In practice, the effect is no different from martial law as the order permits the boundless exercise of power.
Head of the NCPO Order No. 3/2558 also inserts military officials into the judicial process and provides them with the authority to carry out investigations along with the police. The order gives authority to military officials to detain individuals for up to 7 days. Some people are summoned for a brief conversation and are then released on the same day. Some people may be held for many days and nights on a military base. Some people may be interrogated and the record of this interrogation may later be entered as evidence in a legal case. Some people may sign an agreement to not engage in further political movement. There are numerous cases in which people who were detained alleged that they were tortured or threatened so that they would confess. During this 7-day period of detention by military officials, detainees do not have the right to meet with a lawyer or contact their relatives. The military officials further refuse to make the locations of places of detention public. This process makes soldiers into the first gatepost through which people are filtered prior to being charged.
Once the military officials pass the baton to the police to prepare a case for prosecution, they remain able to act as investigation officials along with the police. In the majority of cases, soldiers are involved in the arrest and the investigation. Then, NCPO Announcement No. 37/2557 forces civilians to appear before military courts. They are then faced with a military prosecutor and military judges. In cases in which defendants deny the charges, the process of evidence hearings is very slow. In addition, there are many cases in which the military courts have handed down harsh punishments, especially in Article 112 cases. By the second anniversary of the coup, there are at least 167 civilians who have appeared in the military court in political cases.
Finally, when a defendant is sent to prison by the court, in some cases he may be imprisoned in a prison run by military officials. Under the NCPO, a special prison has been set up on a military base. Military officials preside over the entire cycle of the judicial process: promulgation of laws, arrest, accusation, investigation, prosecution, judgment, and punishment.
When the military holds authority over the judicial system, a large number of people are impacted. This is especially the case for those who dissent against the military’s rule. By the second anniversary of the coup, there are at least 44 people who have been imprisoned for political expression and at least 200 people who are in exile.

Note: The full report is in a process of translation, text avilable above is an excecutive sumarry of the report.    


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