Court to police: Excessive force unacceptable

Highest administrative court sends clear message to police who broke up oil pipeline protest in Hat Yai in 2002 before Thaksin mobile cabinet meeting.



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Local News

Historic ruling against police action

16 Jan 2013

The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday ordered the Royal Thai Police Office (RTPO) to pay 24 people 100,000 baht in damages for using force to break up a protest against the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline and gas separation plant projects in Songkhla's Chana district in 2002.

Twenty-four villagers filed a lawsuit with the Songkhla Administrative Court against the RTPO and the Interior Ministry demanding compensation for damages caused by excessive use of force to disperse the protesters in violation of their right to unarmed and peaceful rally under Section 40 of the 1997 constitution.

The Songkhla Administrative Court accepted the case for consideration.

The case was considered a precedent. It was the first to have been brought by local people against government authorities and agencies demanding compensation for damage for violation of the people's right to stage a peaceful and unarmed protest as permitted by the constitution.

According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred on Dec 20, 2002 on Juti Anusorn road near J.B. Hotel in Hat Yai district when local residents demonstrated ahead of a plan to submit a petition to then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was scheduled to attend a mobile cabinet meeting at the hotel on Dec 21.

The petition asked the government to reconsider the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline and Thai-Malaysian gas separation plant projects.

The police decided to use force to disperse the protesters, injuring many of them and damaging some of their cars. Some of the protesters were arrested.

On June 1, 2006, the Songkhla Administrative Court ordered the RTPO to pay the 24 protesters 10,000 baht compensation in total.

Both the RTPO and the protesters appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday altered the lower court's verdict, ordering the RTPO to pay the protesters 100,000 baht in total plus 7.5% annual interest within 30 days.

Suraida Tolee, a representative of the villagers opposed to the gas pipeline project, said she was glad the fight for their rights under the constitution was fruitful.

The Supreme Administrative Court's verdict clearly states that the police had infringed on the people's right, she said, adding that the money to be paid by the RTPO would go to a fund for the villagers' future activities.

The video clip below, uploaded to YouTube by TheAttachmentally, shows police officers using force to break up a protest in Songkhla in 2002

(Source: Bangkok Post, Local News, Historic ruling against police action, 16 Jan 2013, link)


Police Brutality Vocabulary

police brutality - use of too much force by police in doing their job (excessive use of force) (See Wikipedia)

brutal (adjective) - done too violently and strongly (in a cruel way without kindness) โหดร้าย, รุนแรง,
brutality (noun) - done too strongly with violence; done cruelly ความโหด

excessive - too much; much greater than is usual; too much of something มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี
excessive use of force
damages caused by excessive use of force

administrative court - a court specializing in administrative law, particularly disputes concerning the exercise of public power by the government and government officials  (See Wikipedia)

administrative law -
"the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government...that are part of a national regulatory scheme in such areas as police law, international trade, manufacturing, the environment, taxation, broadcasting, immigration and transport. Administrative law expanded greatly during the twentieth century, as legislative bodies worldwide created more government agencies to regulate the increasingly complex social, economic and political spheres of human interaction" (See Wikipedia)

1997 constitution -
the so-called Peoples' Constitution that included many new legal rights (See Wikipedia)

ruling - a decision by a court of law คำตัดสิน คำชี้ขาด
history - recording and explaining the events of the past ประวัติศาสตร์

historic ruling - a court that is important for history
historic ruling against police action

protest - a strong complaint or disagreement ประท้วง

break up -
1. make people meeting at a place leave the place, go away from the place; 2. break something into smaller pieces 
break up a protest

force - strong and violent action กำลัง ความรุนแรง
using force to break up a protest
the court ordered the police to pay 100,000 baht in damages for using force to break up a protest

disperse - make people go away from and leave a place, (of a crowd of people) to separate and leave in different directions สลายฝูงชน to scatter or move away over a large area, or to make something do this ทำให้กระจัดกระจาย

disperse
 protesters
use force to disperse the protesters

filed - to take official action, e.g., to make a formal complaint ยื่นฟ้องร้อง
lawsuit - a case that a court of law is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or organisations คดีที่อยู่ในระหว่างการฟ้องร้อง
filed a lawsuit

compensation - money given to someone to pay for harm done to them เงินชดเชย การจ่า่ยเงินชดเชย
compensation for damages

twenty-four villagers filed a lawsuit demanding compensation
compensation
for damages caused by excessive use of force to disperse the protesters

violation - the breaking of a rule or a law; an action that is against a law, agreement, principle, etc. การฝ่าฝืน การฝ่าฝืนกฎหมาย  การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
in violation of a right

rally - a large public gathering of people to support someone or to protest against something การชุมนุม
peaceful rally - a protest that is not violent (not hurting people or damaging property)

unarmed - not having a gun or weapon
an unarmed and peaceful rally

in violation of their right to unarmed and peaceful rally under Section 40 of the 1997 constitution.

Twenty-four villagers filed a lawsuit demanding compensation for damages caused by excessive use of force to disperse the protesters in violation of their right to unarmed and peaceful rally under Section 40 of the 1997 constitution.

consideration - giving careful thought to something before making a decision; to go over details before making a decision
accept legal case for consideration

the Songkhla Administrative Court accepted the case for consideration.

precedent - an action, situation or decision which has already happened and which can be used as a reason why a similar action or decision should be performed or taken มาตรฐานในการตัดสิน, ตัวอย่างหรือแบบอย่างที่มีมาก่อน

local
- in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
local people - the people who live in a local area

authorities
- government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
government authorities

stage - to organise and event ทำการเปลี่ยนแปลง ปฏิวัติ
stage a protest

The case was considered a precedent. It was the first to have been brought by local people against government authorities and agencies demanding compensation for damage for violation of the people's right to stage a peaceful and unarmed protest as permitted by the constitution.

incident - an unpleasant event
the incident occurred on Dec 20, 2002 in Hat Yai

submit - to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
petition - a document signed by a large number of people demanding or requesting some action from the government or another authority การถวายฎีกา,การร้องเรียน
submit a petition - officially give a petition to the government for action

residents - people who live in an area ผู้อยู่อาศัย ชาวบ้านในบริเวณ ผู้อาศัยในบริเวณ
local residents

demonstrate - Same as "protest"
local residents demonstrated
local residents demonstrated ahead of a plan to submit a petition to then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra

cabinet
- the group pf closest advisors to the Prime Minister of a country
meeting - when a group of people come together to discuss issues and make decisions การประชุม
cabinet meeting

mobile -
moving from place to place
mobile cabinet meeting

scheduled - planned to happen at a particular time or day ตามตารางเวลา
scheduled to attend a mobile cabinet meeting at the hotel on Dec 21.

reconsider - to think again about a decision in order to decide whether you should change it พิจารณาอีกครั้ง
the petition asked the government to reconsider the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline and Thai-Malaysian gas separation plant projects.

The police decided to use force to disperse the protesters, injuring many of them and damaging some of their cars. Some of the protesters were arrested.

appeal - to ask a higher court to change a lower court's legal decision
Both the RTPO and the protesters appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

alter -
change 
verdict - a decision by a court on a legal case

alter verdict
altered the lower court's verdict

annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
interest - payments made for the use of another's money for a period of time
7.5% annual interest

The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday altered the lower court's verdict, ordering the RTPO to pay the protesters 100,000 baht in total plus 7.5% annual interest within 30 days.

Suraida Tolee, a representative of the villagers opposed to the gas pipeline project, said she was glad the fight for their rights under the constitution was fruitful.

rights - what the law allows you to have or do สิทธิ์ (See Wikipedia)
infringe on rights - violate rights, do something to prevent someone from doing something they have the "right" to do
infringed on the people's right

fund - money provided for something เงินทุน กองทุน
a fund for the villagers' future activities

The Supreme Administrative Court's verdict clearly states that the police had infringed on the people's right, she said, adding that the money to be paid by the RTPO would go to a fund for the villagers' future activities.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer