Justice reforms include fee and bond waivers for poor people

national January 04, 2018 01:00

By KESINEE TANGKHIEO
THE NATION

THE OFFICE of the Judiciary has announced plans to help poor or otherwise underprivileged people navigate the legal process.



People lacking money or legal knowledge could find it hard to deal with being brought to court or taking cases to court, so the office was trying to assist them, including by waiving court fees and granting bail without bonds, Sarawut Benjakul, the office’s secretary-general said yesterday. 

“Under the Constitution, we have a duty to help the underprivileged and we are trying to make sure our efforts are tangible,” Sarawut said. 

He said his office planned to develop an efficient system for the exemption of court fees for low-income people. 

Also, officials have been assigned to help people who do not have legal knowledge or money to hire lawyers when they come to court with consumer-protection or labour cases. 

Sarawut said the country’s judicial system had already introduced a system to protect the rights of defendants, under which they might be able to receive bail even if they do not have money to submit as a bond. 

“Since March 2017, we have developed a system whereby we have based bail decisions on the risks of flight or evidence tampering,” he said. 

He added that the National Legislative Assembly had already introduced a law to supervise people on bail and re-arrest fugitives, and the Office of the Judiciary’s executive board had passed a regulation to facilitate enforcement of the law. 

With this regulation, courts can appoint someone to supervise bail recipients. People who re-arrest fugitives will also be rewarded. 

“We are in the process of asking the Finance Ministry to approve the payment method,” he said. 

He added that he believed that such laws and measures would give courts more confidence in granting temporary releases of defendants. 

Sarawut was speaking during a press conference about his office’s plans for 2018. 

He said plans included a scheme to allow more cases to be settled out of court.

“It’s about alternative justice. If parties to the conflict can settle their dispute through negotiations, there is a higher chance of satisfaction for both sides. The number of court cases, moreover, will be reduced,” he said. 

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