BANGKOK — An activist on Thursday filed a petition to the court demanding legal action against the Thai government for imposing a new border rule that effectively stranded many Thai citizens overseas.
Artit Suriyawongkul, a member of Thai Netizen Network, submitted his lawsuit to the Administrative Court and urged the judges to stop the government from requiring Thai nationals to have embassy and health certificates for their flights home, which many say are near impossible to obtain.
Speaking on Friday, Artit said the court has accepted the case for deliberation, and it will likely take a week before it decides if it has jurisdiction over the matter. The suit named the chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand as the defendant.
Artit is currently studying for a PhD in Ireland; he filed the case via the Administrative Court’s online system.
In order to board a plane and return to their homecountry, Thais must present a fit-to-fly permit issued by the embassy and health certificates.
Many Thais say both documents, especially the health certificates, are extremely difficult to obtain as hospitals in Western countries are overburdened by the coronavirus cases, while the fit-to-fly permits do not involve tests for coronavirus.
The activist argued the new regulation, which changed multiple times before finally coming into effect on Saturday – a day earlier than what the government said – was ineffective, disproportionate, and unconstitutional.
He cited Article 39 of the 2017 Constitution, which stated that “Banishing Thai nationals out of the kingdom or preventing Thai nationals from entering the kingdom cannot be done.”
Opposition politician Chaturon Chaisang also called the regulations “inhumane” in his tweet.
“The tactic which requires [Thais abroad] to have to seek a medical certificate is an intentional act in preventing Thais from returning home,” Chaturon wrote. “It’s inhumane and unconstitutional, but the government doesn’t care.”
The government has yet to comment on the court case as of publication time.