MACF: Re-education programme’s success overestimated?
The Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation has warned the Thai state not to overestimate the success of its re-education programme under Article 21 of the Internal Security Act to enable Islamic militants to turn a new leaf.
Two suspected militants who were wanted by authorities for criminal offences and turned themselves in and confessed to their wrongdoings have, so far, completed the six-month re-education programme designed to turn them into law-abiding citizens instead of putting them in custody.
In an article, entitled “Success under the Internal Security Act?”, the Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MACF) said that the enforcement of Article 21 of the ISA was a welcome sign and would provide a channel for the misguided militants to turn a new leaf by accepting to undergo re-education which would take no more than six months in lieu of facing trial.
As a result of Article 21 of the ISA, all the criminal charges against the suspects undergoing the re-education programme will be dropped automatically in accordance with Article 39 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
MACF said that it was clear that the objective of Article 21 of the ISA was to put an end to the unrest situation or violence which has gripped the deep South for more than nine years. The objective is relevant with the government’s attempt to create an atmosphere conducive for people who harbour different opinions to cooperate with the government in tackling the unrest problem.
But the objective is easier said than done as there is still no clear sign that the government’s peace gesture was enthusiastically received by the militant groups as violence still continues unabated, said the MACF, adding that government authorities often claimed that the violent incidents were perpetrated by the militants as a reprisal against the government’s success in winning the support of the local Muslims.
MACF pointed out that the use of special laws such as the ISA, the emergency decree or the Martial Law might be effective in deterring ordinary crimes but might not be effective in combating against people with different ideologies or political aspirations.
Enforcement of the law with total disregard of how the law is enforced or abuses of the law by the enforcers will backfire on the law itself, said MACF, citing the problem of abuses of the law.
Re-education programme must be voluntary and not forced upon the suspected militants, said MACF, adding that if the suspects are not willing to enter the programme, their decisions must be accepted.
Also, it said that the programme must be applied to the people against whom there are evidences of criminal offences and not applied to people who were forced to make confessions or people implicated by the others.
In the end, the MACF expressed hope that Article 21 of the ISA would not create more problems like the other special laws in the restive deep South.