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Controversial Internal Security bill sails through Thai legislature
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14:18, December 21, 2007

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Thailand's National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has passed the controversial Internal Security Bill, which grants the Prime Minister and the military an overwhelming power to impose an emergency rule in the country, a local newspaper reported Friday.

The NLA endorsed the bill during two hours of deliberation on Thursday, with 105 to eight in favor and two abstentions, according to newspaper The Nation.

The bill, revised by the Council of State, was approved by the cabinet in October before being forwarded to the NLA to pass into law.

The core of controversy around the bill is Article 17, which grants the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), headed by the Prime Minister with the Army chief as deputy head, to restrict citizens movements, place anyone under house arrest, order curfews, prohibit public gatherings and declare a state of emergency indefinitely in name of national security.

The bill arose opposition from human rights activists and academics who accused it of violating people's basic rights and freedom.

Protesters stormed the NLA earlier in December in an attempt to stop the junta-appointed legislature to pass the Internal Security Bill and other important bills just days ahead of the next general election this Sunday, which they said should leave to the next elected government to decide on.

On Thursday, more than 20 other bills were passed overwhelmingly, even unanimously, including those on public debt, non-formal education, the Bank of Thailand and the establishment of associations and foundations.


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