Judiciary of Thailand
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The Judiciary of Thailand (Thai: ฝ่ายตุลาการไทย; rtgs: Fai Tulakan Thai) is composed of three distinct systems: the Court of Justice system, the Administrative Court system and the Constitutional Court of Thailand. The current judicial system is organised in accordance with the 2007 Constitution of Thailand.
The Asian Human Rights Commission called the Thai legal system a "mess" and called for a drastic overhaul of Thailand's criminal procedures. It cited the rampant use of forced confessions, and the fact that even a senior justice ministry official admitted that 30% of cases went to court with no evidence. There are no stenographic records kept by the trial court and the record is composed of what the judges decide. It also criticized the judiciary for failing to ensure that trials are conducted speedily.
Research judges assist the sitting judges. Judges must take an examination and two different examinations are given: one exam is for judges trained in Thailand and a different examination is given for judges who graduate from foreign law schools. All Judges are formally appointed by the King.
Courts of Justice
The Courts of Justice of Thailand (ศาลยุติธรรม) is the largest of the court system and makes up the majority of courts in the Kingdom. The Courts as mandated in the Constitution is made up of three tiers: the Court of First Instance (ศาลชั้นต้น), the Court of Appeals (ศาลอุทธรณ์) and the Supreme Court of Justice of Thailand (ศาลฎีกา). The current Chief Justice of Thailand is Direk Ingkaninanda.
The Administrative Courts
The Administrative Court system (ศาลปกครอง) is made up of two tiers: The Administrative Courts of First Instance (ศาลปกครองชั้นต้น) and the Supreme Administrative Court (ศาลปกครองสูงสุด). The court system was first created in 1997, the court’s main jurisdiction is to settle litigation between the State or an organ of state (government ministries, departments and independent agencies) and private citizens.
The Constitutional Court
First set up in 1997, the Constitutional Court of Thailand (ศาลรัฐธรรมนูญ) was created solely as a high court to settle matters pertaining to the constitution. The court has since accumulated huge amounts of power and influence in the wake of the 2006 military coup and the constitution it created, engaging in what critics of the Court call political coups, ousting prime ministers from office, and climaxing in a ruling in 2013 that Parliament could not amend the constitution according to its terms to elect all senators because that would violate the court's definition of a "democratic regime." In May 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Thai prime minister and nine other cabinet minister had to resign because of malfeasance. Questions have been raised not only over the court's increasing power over this matter, but why the Supreme Court, which apparently has jurisdiction in such cases, did not adjudicate. There have been repeated calls for reform or outright elimination of the Court because of its politicization.
- M&C, Human rights group slams Thailand's judicial system, 26 March 2007
- Official Website of the Supreme Court of Justice of Thailand
- Official Website of the Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand
- Official Website of the Constitutional Court of Thailand