CMPO To Appeal Restriction On Emergency Powers

Anti-government protesters pose with a car damaged by previous clashes between police and protesters, 20 February 2014

(20 February) The Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) said it will appeal the court ruling which effectively strips the government of powers under the emergency decree.

The Civil Court yesterday refused torepeal the State of Emergency as requested by representatives of anti-government movements, but it also placed a number of key restrictions on the authorities′ efforts to contain the protests. 
 
The limitations prohibit the government from banning political rally, launching crackdown on protesters, dismantling barricades erected by the protesters, or sealing off traffic around protest sites. 
 
For many observers, the verdict effectively rendered the emergency decree powerless, and could be seen as endorsing the legality of protests led by People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy (PCAD).  
 
CMPO director Chalerm Yoobamrung lashed out at the verdict in an interview today. 
 
He sarcastically praised the Civil Court for forbidding the CMPO from dispersing the protesters, claiming that it made his job easier. "I like it. From now on, the police need not walk empty-handed toward the protesters only to get killed like in the past. I can just order the police not to approach the protesters at all," Mr. Chalerm said.
 
The CMPO director asserted that the CMPO is required to curb the PCAD protests and the demonstrators have repeatedly used firearms and besieged a number of governmental agencies, which violates the rights to free assembly guaranteed under the Thai Constitution. 
 
Mr. Chalerm also warned that the verdict would virtually prohibit any police action necessary to restore public order. He gave an hypothetical situation in which a group of protester stormed into a Ministry building. The police might not be able to retake the building due to the court′s ban on crackdown operation, Mr. Chalerm said.
 
"I don′t know what I could do. This is wrong. That is wrong," Mr. Chalerm told reporters, "As the CMPO director, I cannot work. I am not being sarcastic here, but I′m genuinely afraid that my subordinates might end up in jail".
 
He also noted that in 2010 Pheu Thai Party had filed a similar request to repeal the State of Emergency imposed by then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the Civil Court at the time affirmed the emergency decree, stating that the power to enact or repeal the decree rested solely with the administrative branch.
 
"Yet the Civil Court in this era affirms the emergency decree but imposed so many restrictions on the government," Mr. Chalerm complained, "I′m confused by the court′s decision".
 
CMPO spokesman Tharit Pendit later stated in a televised speech that the CMPO will appeal the verdict, echoing Mr. Chalerm′s reasons that the anti-government protests have stepped beyond the acceptable line of peaceful and non-violent gathering protected under the Constitution.
 
Mr. Tharit called PCAD actions an act of rebellion intended to sow chaos and disobedience to the rule of laws throughout the Kingdom. He warned that the court verdict which prevented the government from containing the protests would lead to a situation of "vacuum" in which political groups hostile to PCAD would take matters into their own hands and attempt to disperse the PCAD protesters by themselves.
 
"Clashes and act of vigilante might occur, because the state authorities cannot enforce the laws," Mr. Tharit said in the press conference, "It is indeed an undesirable scenario".
 
Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the CMPO will try its best to operate under the existing restrictions imposed by the civil court, but stressed that the effort to appeal the verdict is underway.
 
 

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