Corruption court set to open, poll praises government graft fight

Case lists were being prepared last week as a special court tasked solely with trying corruption cases against officials was preparing to start work early next month, while the government’s anti-corruption efforts received the highest marks from respondents to a national poll that rated the administration’s performance in several areas.

A total of 70 cases have been placed on the initial docket for the Corruption Court, a special division of the Criminal Court,and 20 judges have been assigned to preside. Fast tracking cases and utilizing the knowledge and experience of judges who have been handling corruption cases for many years are the court’s high priorities. The court will hear its first cases on October 3.

Chief judge Amnat Phuangchomphu said the court would also continually develop and increase the expertise of its judges. He said the division would eventually have 45 judges handling corruption cases.

The first 70 cases all involve high-ranking officials, Amnat said. The division will be divided into a primary court and an appeals court. People can file cases directly with the court and do not have to go through the police or counter corruption commissions.

The Corruption Court is one of three recently established special divisions under the Criminal Court, with the other two dealing with human trafficking cases and narcotics cases. The government’s reasoning in establishing the special courts are that the three problems – corruption, narcotics and human trafficking – are serious threats to the future of the nation, are complex and require special expertise among the judiciary to tackle them more effectively.

Fighting corruption is an area in which the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha received high marks from the public in a survey released last week by the Suan Dusit polling agency.

Asked what they were most satisfied with as far as the government’s performance, 82.7 percent answered its fight against graft and organized crime, making it the effort most respondents cited first.

Fighting corruption was followed by the government’s efforts to restore peace and order (78 percent), its achievements in its road map to rebuild democracy (70.7 percent), suppression of forest and public-area land encroachment (67 percent), and transport infrastructure development (60 percent).

Respondents were least satisfied with the government’s performance regarding the economy and the high cost of living, and listed that as the top issue in which they would like to see improvement.

That was followed by low prices for farm goods (72 percent), restrictions on freedom of expression (70.6 percent), crime (59 percent), and the long-running conflict and violence in the Deep South (52 percent).