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Wed, March 21, 2007 : Last updated 21:22 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Politics > Prasong wants amnesty for CNS in draft

Prasong wants amnesty for CNS in draft

The chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee Prasong Soonsiri asked the panel yesterday to ensure that the military junta is given amnesty from prosecution in the charter now being drafted.

If this happens, it will be the first amnesty ever written into any of the "permanent" constitutions.

"If staging a coup is wrong under the new charter, will the Council for National Security (CNS) be tried in a military court, or what? It won't be fair to them if, after the charter is adopted, they all ended up going to jail," Prasong told his fellow drafters at yesterday's meeting.

Charter drafter Charan Phakdithanakul, who is permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said that unless a clause was written in the new constitution to recognise the junta's action as legal, some people may use a loophole to launch a lawsuit against the junta when the 2006 interim charter, which was written by the coup leaders and granted them immunity from legal action, ceases to be valid.

Charan said the clause need not be specific and the new charter would not include the name "Council for National Security" or refer to the junta. Instead, it could read something like: "The various actions the group has committed... are constitutional," he said, noting that if the new charter specifically included the name of the CNS it could create controversy.

"With due respect, I do not want us to endorse the coup d'etat group under our constitution because it would be severely criticised," he said.

Another controversial issue discussed yesterday was whether to ban the 110 people either drafting the charter or members of the Drafting Assembly from running for political office for two years.

Some CDA members appear to have kept quiet on the issue over the past few weeks but drafter Krirkkiat Pipatseritham said a decision was needed on the matter to avoid a conflict of interest.

He said that after the 1997 constitution was drafted, 36 out of 99 members of the then drafting assembly went on to run for election.

"It would be good to declare that we shall abstain," he said. However, the committee failed to make a conclusion on the matter.

The panel also agreed yesterday to find ways to draw a clear line between the duty and authority of the National Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Drafter Vicha Mahakun said: "The National Human Rights Commission have been engaging in things that they ought not to do - while they haven't done things that they ought to have done."

Vichai also claimed the NHRC had been subject to possible abuse of power in regard to a recruitment scandal.

Meanwhile, it has been agreed to try to find ways to require politicians and their immediate family to reveal their assets and debts to the National Counter Corruption Commission.

The CDA also wants measures to make sure trustees or nominee figures who "hold money" for a politician can also be scrutinised.

In a related development aimed at launching a PR offensive, CDA member Chirmsak Pinthong, who chairs the CDA's subcommittee on Public Hearings, will launch a weekly "people meets the drafters" programme called "People's Constitution".

The programme, to be broadcast live on Channel 11 and some radio frequencies from 3pm to 5pm will enable the public to ask questions and make suggestions.

The first two Sundays will be held at Parliament House and Chirmsak said the show would be more than just PR spin - it would allow for a real discussion between the public and drafters, plus CDA members.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation

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