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Amendments to organic bill don’t violate charter: CDC

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AMENDMENTS to clauses concerning ordinary citizens’ right to complain to the Constitutional Court over violations of their rights – which is guaranteed under the new charter – are unlikely to have violated the charter, Constitution Drafting Commission member Pattara Khumphitak said yesterday.
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passed the new Constitutional Court organic bill, one of the 10 required by the new charter, on its second and third readings on Thursday. However, the CDC’s original clauses regarding the filing of complaints to protect people’s rights and freedoms were amended by the NLA.
On Friday, Pattara posted on Facebook, raising questions about how the bill, as passed, would protect people’s rights and freedom. Among the clauses he found objectionable was one that did not allow people who believed they had suffered an infringement of their rights to directly approach the Constitutional Court. 
According to Pattara, the CDC had drafted the bill in a way that allowed people to directly file complaints to the court, matching a provision in the charter that guarantees such a right.
However, these clauses were revised, requiring people instead to lodge complaints through the Ombudsman and other concerned agencies, including the Cabinet. Only if those agencies failed to respond would people be allowed to approach the court directly. Pattara said this could cause difficulties to people who were suffering an injustice.
This, Pattara pointed out in additional comments made late on Friday, would prolong the process. 
Pattara further explained that this might be interpreted as a sign that lawmakers did not want to see issues flood the court. But making complainants go through such a long process might be seen as a way to make them give up in their demands for personal justice.
Following the legal procedure, the draft bill will be submitted to the Constitutional Court and the CDC for further review as to whether it is constitutional. A joint committee could be set up in the event of one of the agencies disagreeing with the NLA draft. 
But Pattara said his initial view was that the amendment was unlikely to have violated the constitution as the stipulation in the charter states that the petition procedures would follow what is stipulated in the organic law. The NLA’s amendments are now part of the organic law. 
“The CDC has attempted to ensure this for them already, and I think people should not be rid of tools to help them demand the rights they deserve,” said Pattara.
Other potentially controversial amendment points are also contained in the passed bill. These include a stipulation that allows the court’s nine judges to remain in office despite not meeting the new qualifications set under the charter to determine their terms after the law is promulgated.
The court would also be empowered to impose temporary measures to prevent severe and irreparable damage and any foreseeable violence. 
After intense debate, the legislation was approved with 188 votes for and none against, with five abstentions. 

Published : November 25, 2017

By : The Nation