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Wed, May 2, 2007 : Last updated 20:54 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Politics > Judges oppose appointments' role

Judges oppose appointments' role

Soldiers raise their hands for a vote yesterday during a seminar held to debate the content of the new draft constitution, at King Naresuan Camp in Phitsanulok province.
Having to select senators, other posts would make judiciary more political 'and damage our integrity and independence'

The judiciary has rejected the idea proposed in the draft constitution that it become more involved in national politics, saying such a move would lead to an erosion of judicial independence and fairness.

The draft constitution plans to give the courts an unprecedented role in politics by having judges select senators and appoint leaders of so-called independent organisations.

But concerns and unease about the plan emerged yesterday after Supreme Court Judge Wattanachai Chotechootrakul, chairman of the courts' committee reviewing the constitution draft, convened a meeting of concerned judges.

The meeting concluded it was not the duty of judges to make political appointments, as stipulated under Article 107 of the draft charter.

"It is inappropriate to make judges become involved [in politics] because it will lead to loss of independence and fairness of the courts," said Srawuth Benjakul, deputy secretary of the Office of the Courts of Justice and the courts' spokesperson.

He said in assigning the courts to select leading members of so-called independent organisations, the courts would lose their "impartiality".

The meeting concluded the idea of involving the courts in an ad-hoc crisis committee under article 68 of the charter was not sound.

The Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) will finish its informal vetting and adjustment of the first draft of the 2007 constitution on May 14, while the official amendments will take place from May 23 to 25.

The vetting starts in earnest this week and on May 24 the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) will meet with various subcommittees of the Assembly, including the subcommittee on public hearings and referendums. An internal meeting of the CDC will then take place from May 28 to 31 and the period between June 1 and June 7 will be set aside to finalise the vetting and adjustment of the draft, leading towards the publication of the second draft, scheduled for completion by June 10.

Final vetting by the CDA will take place from June 11 to June 30, with July 6 slated as the deadline for the charter's completion.

The period between July 20 to August 18 will be allocated for publicising the charter in preparation for a referendum in September.

Meanwhile, CDC secretary Somkid Lertpaitoon said widespread criticism of the draft charter was not a bad thing but those criticising it should argue rationally.

He said there were five or six issues still to be agreed upon, including how senators should be selected, the role of the courts and Buddhism as the state religion.

Somkid said the CDC was willing to consider all suggestions but he defended the committee against criticisms that the charter would lead to a bureaucratic form of governance. "They [the critics] haven't told us which articles will lead to such a state," he said.

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