Thai groups lodge petition to protest public gatherings Bill

Thai groups lodge petition to protest public gatherings Bill

More than 38 civic groups lodged a complaint with the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) opposing the draft bill, which they claim will restrict their rights to get the government to address their grievances through public rallies.

The groups' leader, Chamnong Nupan, submitted the petition to NLA vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai and said the agency rushed to pass the public gathering bill, which restricts the rights of people to public participation.

The petition said the bill violated the basic constitutional rights of the people by providing vague definitions of the words "gatherings", "courts" and "court authority", and banning gatherings in public places, Parliament and Government House.

The bill banned protesters from blocking the entrances of state agencies and disturbing state officials while they are working.

It also required protesters to notify the authorities 24 hours in advance of their intention to conduct rallies, it banned the use of loud speakers at night and blocked the public from access to the government and MPs.

Surachai said he would forward the complaint to the NLA scrutiny committee, which is deliberating the bill.

He calmed the fears of the group somewhat by saying the bill can be altered. He said that while the lawmakers were willing to protect the rights of protesters, they have to protect the rights of road users.

He also asked the group to send five representatives to join the scrutiny meeting deliberating the bill while they discuss changes.

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