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ASEAN group calls for end of judicial ‘harassment’ of Thai MPs

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ASEAN group calls for end of judicial ‘harassment’ of Thai MPs | The Thaiger
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The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, based in Jakarta, is calling on Thai authorities to end what they describe as harassment of the Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. They’ve also asked the ruling Junta to stop their efforts to undermine anti-military parties in the new Thai parliament.

Charles Santiago, Chair of APHR and a Member of Parliament in Malaysia was a signatory on the statement.

“The Thai authorities’ pursuit of trumped-up criminal cases against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and other anti-military actors is a clear attempt to undermine critics of the junta. All charges against lawmakers, journalists, activists and others, who have done nothing but express peaceful opinions, must be dropped immediately.”

“Thanathorn has faced at least two apparently politically motivated criminal cases over the past year. Last week, the Constitutional Court also suspended him from his duties as a Member of Parliament, pending an investigation into an alleged violation of election rules.”

Mr. Santiago claimed that regional lawmakers are concerned that the military junta continues to use a range of repressive laws, including sedition charges and the Computer Crimes Act, to target and silence critics since they took power in the May 22, 2014 coup.

“Worryingly, sedition cases in Thailand are tried in military courts that do not meet international standards of fairness and where cases often face severe delays.”

The statement ended with a call for the protection of MPs.

“Parliamentarians can play a crucial role in upholding and defending human rights, but only if they are allowed to act without restrictions and fear of reprisals. It is disturbing that governments across Southeast Asia seek to undermine opposition figures through threats, harassment and criminal charges, ” said Eva Sundari, APHR Board Member and MP in Indonesia.

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Election

US federal judge shoots down President Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania vote certification

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US federal judge shoots down President Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania vote certification | The Thaiger

A US federal judge has shot down US President Trump’s campaign team’s attempt to block the certification of votes in the state of Pennsylvania. The judge issued the order that also refuted claims of widespread irregularities for mail-in ballots. The news comes after President Trump has refused to concede the election despite other leaders worldwide already recognising Joe Biden, a democrat, as the president-elect.

Pennsylvania may have been Mr. Trump’s final hope for arguing against the election results, as the state holds 20 electoral votes. In an attempt to bring the issue into court, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, made an appearance in the court, for the first time in decades, to argue the case.

But the US District Court Judge Matthew Brann wasn’t having it. In his order, he detailed Trump’s request for the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million votes. Judge Brann ruled that Pennsylvania officials indeed could certify the election results by showing that Mr. Biden had won the state by 80,000 votes. He further noted that the Trump campaign team presented strained legal arguments “without merit and speculative accusations … unsupported by evidence”.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, so much that the court would have no option but to stop the certification even though it would impact so many people. That has not happened.”

Despite Pennsylvania’s strong number of votes in the electoral college, Donald Trump still would have needed to win the other lawsuits that he had filed, where his campaign team also asked to delay certification of votes. Following suit, however, most of the courts rejected the lawsuits, citing the need for proof that fraud could have occurred.

Giuliani and a Trump campaign lawyer are holding fort by noting that they welcomed the dismissal as they could appeal to the US Supreme Court faster, where Trump has continuously claimed that he has sympathetic justices. Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who helped place Judge Brann on the bench, said the ruling showed Trump had exhausted all possible legal avenues in the state and went on to congratulate Biden on his victory.

“Brann is a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist.”

Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor, didn’t appear to be much of a help in the court after he seemingly confused the meaning of “opacity”, provoked an opposing lawyer, and seemed unaware of the Pennsylvania election code when he said it was illegal for counties to help people vote. Trump’s attorneys also teamed up by saying that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took different approaches to notifying voters before the election about technical problems with their submitted mail-in ballots.

The judge dismissed the argument entirely, and Mark Aronchick, an opposing lawyer, addressed Giuliani directly about the Pennsylvania election code

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after Brann’s ruling that “another one bites the dust.”

“These claims were meritless from the start and for an audience of one,” Shapiro said in a statement. “The will of the people will prevail. These baseless lawsuits need to end.”

SOURCE: Associate Press

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Politics

Leaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters

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Leaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: bbc.com

A leaked internal memo shows riot police have been ordered to mobilise and prepare detention facilities to accommodate arrested student protesters. The police memo, dated Friday, orders the heavily armed Border Patrol Police to be “on standby” for student-led anti-government protests in Bangkok. Although a provision of the Emergency Decree banning public gatherings was removed last week, police say it remains in force until the beginning of the decree’s extension which kicks in at the start of August.

The regional border patrol police commander, who signed the order, confirmed the letter is genuine, but says it’s only routine procedure.

“No, we’re not going to arrest them. It’s the normal thing we do. We have to be prepared for orders. The accommodations are mainly for reinforcements from other provinces. But I admit that some of the spaces are spared for protesters in case there’s an order to arrest them.”

According to the order, 2 companies of riot police will be housed at the regional Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district just north of Bangkok, while about 100 protesters would be held at a separate building inside the base.

A “guest house” is also to be prepared to accommodate 5 protest leaders.

The authorities insist the ongoing protests held by student activists violate the Emergency Decree and could be met with legal action, though no one has been arrested so far, and the rallies have been peaceful.

The leader of the Free Youth Movement, one of the groups behind the July 18 protest at Bangkok’s Democracy monument, suggested the memo might have been intentionally leaked by police as part of their psychological operations.

“They just want to threaten protesters. Our movement is not against the law or causing harm to anyone.”

The group is calling for the government to call a new election and draft a new Constitution, with a deadline set for this Saturday. A spokesman says more intense rallies will follow if the demands are not met.

Leaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters | News by The ThaigerLeaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court

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Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court | The Thaiger

Leader of the Future Forward Party, 41 year old Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament following the handing down of a guilty verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court today.

The Court’s findings say Thanathorn was still holding shares in a media company when he registered to run in the March 24 national election. Thanathorn presented evidence during hearings into case declaring that he’d divested himself of any company shares before the calling of the election.

Constitutional pundits say the ruling now paves the way for Thanathorn to be charged under Article 151 of the Elections Act which specifies a jail term of up to 10 years and a political ban for 20 years for anyone found guilty of registering to run in MP elections while knowing that he or she is not qualified.

Thanathorn was originally accused by the Election Commission of still holding 675,000 shares in his family-owned V Luck Media Company when he registered to run in the general election in March this year.

During his defence Thanathorn insisted that the company was not a mass media entity in the general sense as it published only an in-flight magazine and a glossy franchised lifestyle magazine. He also presented evidence that he had transferred all the shares in question to his mother prior to registering to run in the election.

Article 98 of the Constitution prohibits proprietors or share-holders of media companies to run in elections out of fear they would have undue political influence, according to Thai PBS World.

The court dismissed Thanathorn’s defence on both points and revoked his status as an elected MP effective as of May 23 when he was suspended from active duty as MP after the Election Commission made the charges.

Hundreds of supporters of Future Forward Party showed disappointment as they listened to the verdict broadcast on close-circuit TV in the lobby of the Constitutional Court under tight security. Representatives from the US Embassy and EU in Bangkok were also seen attending the session as observers.

Despite his absence from the Parliamentary chamber, and his suspension as an MP at the time, Thanathorn narrowly missed being elected as the Thai PM in the first sitting of the new Parliament.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament - Thai Constitutional Court | News by The Thaiger

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