Lt-General Kongcheep Tantrawanit, the Defence Ministry spokesman
Lt-General Kongcheep Tantrawanit, the Defence Ministry spokesman

Prawit assigns Army to draw up guidance handbook for officials dealing with protesters

Breaking News April 30, 2018 16:50

By The Nation

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The defence minister has assigned the Royal Thai Army to prepare a handbook providing implementation guidelines for officials dealing with protesters, a ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Deputy Premier and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan made the assignment through Army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart while chairing a Defence Council meeting on Monday, spokesman Lt-General Kongcheep Tantrawanit said.

The Army chief attended the meeting in his capacity as secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order.

The handbook will offer implementation guidelines based on relevant laws and the principle of human rights, Kongcheep said.

“The handbook is meant to prevent clashes between officials and demonstrators. People involved must understand the legal framework. Human rights must not be violated. This is something the prime minister is concerned about,” he explained.

“The goal is to avoid problems that happened in the past – injuries, human-rights violations, or lack of understanding about laws,” he added.

The Army is working with the Justice Ministry in preparing the handbook, which is expected to be completed “as soon as possible”, the spokesman said.

He also said that the guidelines would comply with international practice in dealing with protesters, including a principle that officials are required to use light measures first and gradually increase the degree of toughness if the initial measures do not work. 

For example, he added, officials dealing with demonstrators would start by issuing a warning and if necessary then use water cannons, before adopting tougher measures.

A group of people calling for an early general election plan to hold a street rally this coming Saturday.

The Defence Ministry was asked to comment on what some have perceived as an attempt to create a situation intended to lead to a bloody military crackdown, as in 1992, which was later known as the Black May event. 

Kongcheep said the prevailing conditions in 1992 and at present were different, but security authorities were “following the matter”.

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