Legislature approves founding of anti-Corruption Court
Thailand’s efforts to eradicate corruption gained sustainability last week when the National Legislative Assembly voted unanimously to approve the establishment of a specialized court within the Criminal Court system to handle corruption cases, including those involving state officials.
The government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has made battling corruption one of its core policies, and recent improvements in the Kingdom’s transparency rankings indicate the efforts are beginning to bear show positive results. The special division of the Criminal Court dealing with corruption is one of three special courts created to deal with specifically with serious problems plaguing the Kingdom.
Last August saw the establishment of a division of the Criminal Court to deal solely with human trafficking cases, and another court will handle only narcotics trafficking cases. The government moved to create the three special division in recognition that these serious crimes are often complex and require specialized knowledge and experience on the part of judges and court officials.
Justice system officials have said that the specialized courts will lead to more effective prosecution and speedier trials because of the experience of the judges and officials involved.
“Having more effective justice procedures in place will allow Thailand to better respond … while also boosting confidence in the justice system. The fast and timely prosecution process would also make people think twice before committing such crimes, thereby helping in crime prevention,” said Pongsak Tragoolsilpa, the deputy chief judge of the Criminal Court.
All 160 members of the legislature voted in favor of the bill and it will become law in a matter of days when it is published in the Royal Gazette. Cases under the new court’s jurisdiction include criminal lawsuits against state officials accused of abusing their positions, violating laws or committing malfeasance with the intent to indulge in corruption.
It should be noted, however, that this court will not preside over cases involving most elected officials accused of corruption or malfeasance. Those politicians and their cases come under the scope of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders. The new court will deal with bureaucrats and other officials facing corruption charges and accusations.
Also under the court’s purview will be cases that pertain to officials allegedly involved in money laundering, breaching laws in relation bidding on state projects and violating laws involving joint investment with private companies.
Private individuals who solicit or give kickbacks to officials, or threaten to harm or use their influence to force state officials for their own gain, will also be tried in the new court, as will officials charged with failing to declare their assets truthfully and those accused of being “unusually rich.”