11 July 2024

A group of ASEAN parliamentarians have called on the international community to monitor the ongoing legal case in the Constitutional Court that could lead to a dissolution of the Move Forward Party (MFP).

The court said it will start deliberation on the case on June 18 but did not say when a ruling will be issued.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), a network of parliamentarians advancing human rights, also urged the international community to take preventive actions to discourage what it described as the use of judicial instruments to dissolve the party.

The Election Commission has asked the court to consider dissolving the party for advocating a platform to reform the lese majeste law, better known as Article 112, which is alleged to be equivalent to an attempt to overthrow the democratic government with the monarch as head of state. A court ruling against the party could also lead to a 10-year political ban on its executive members.

APHR said that such ruling would risk encroaching on the prerogative of the legislative branch and blatantly disregards the principle of the separation of powers.

“By preventing parliamentarians from deliberating on the law that is not in line with international human rights standards, the court undermines the very idea of democracy as it puts that specific law beyond the reach of any amendments,” APHR Chair and Indonesian Member of Parliament Mercy Chriesty Barends said. 

APHR also called on international human rights mechanisms and the international community to explore various tools in international law to hold those committing judicial harassment in Thailand accountable.

“Democracy in Thailand is backsliding, not only due to a military coup, but also through dubious interpretations of laws employed to target opposition politicians. If the Move Forward Party is banned, like the Future Forward Party in 2019, millions of people will be disenfranchised, and unrest that could destabilize Thailand is a real possibility,” said APHR Co-Chair and former Malaysian MP Charles Santiago. “This would not only hurt Thailand’s democratic development, but would further harm the economy and damage the reputation and legacy of the current Thai government.”