Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO): Despite the ISA, assembly can be held within the law; all sides urged to monitor for and prevent violence

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION

Whereas the Prime Minister has invoked the Internal Security Act (ISA) and approved the establishment of the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) to draw up plans and measures to prevent and end any violent incidents that may occur by ill-intentioned groups using the gathering of the Red Shirts on 30 August 2009;

CAPO wishes to point out that this Act provides a legal basis for the authorization of officers to use preventive and deterrent measures to stop any possible violence, with no effect on the people’s constitutional right to peaceful assembly or the way of life of the general public.

Today (28 August 2009), the outcome of the Internal Security Operations Board meeting approved the structure and plan of operations for CAPO, as follows:

1. The structure of CAPO is divided into two main parts: the Control and Administrative Section and the Peace and Order Maintenance Security Unit. 
o The Control and Administrative Section is made up of commanding officers from agencies under the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). The duty of this unit is to direct and manage the operations of the Peace and Order Maintenance Security Unit to ensure that they are in line with the policies of cautiousness, appropriateness, transparency and accountability in accordance with the law and democratic principles.  In addition, there is also a legal team to provide legal advice in every aspect.
o The Peace and Order Maintenance Security Unit is an integration of civilian, police and military forces with an initial operating strength of 37 companies.  Officers operating outside government offices would carry only shields, batons and crowd-control equipment, with no other weapons.

2. The plan of operations is divided into two phases: prevention of violence, and resolution of the situation.
o The prevention phase will include setting up check points and patrols to ensure that no weapons are carried; securing important government buildings; preventing confrontation between opposing sides; remaining on alert to stop any form of violence; as well as timely detection and disposal of explosives. During the prevention phase, CAPO will announce a temporary close-off of three public thoroughfares: Nakhonpathom Road (from Devakam intersection to Chamaimaruchet Bridge), Lukluang Road (from Devakam intersection to Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue), and the frontage road along the side of the Government House on Rajadamnoen Nok Avenue, in order to reserve access for government officials and authorized personnel into the Government House to perform their duties.
o The situation resolution phase will only be used when a violent incident is caused or prohibitions announced by the authorities are violated. A graduated response – from light to heavy measures – will be taken based on internationally accepted standards, with explanations at each step.

CAPO reaffirms that although the ISA may have been invoked for the area of Dusit District, peaceful and unarmed assembly may still be conducted in line with constitutional rights and freedoms, so long as such exercise of the freedom of assembly is not excessive and does not violate the announced injunctions. Also, no action shall be taken that would provoke or instigate violence and unrest. Those who violate the injunctions issued under Section 18 of the ISA will be punished by law and may be sentenced to up to 1-year imprisonment or a fine of 20,000 baht or both.

In deciding whether to take part in the political assembly on 30 August, the people are requested to exercise their judgment and not be swayed by rumors that are distortions of the truth, to consider the consequences in terms of public peace and order, national harmony, and the image of our country, which may affect foreign investors’ confidence in Thailand. CAPO therefore kindly requests all sides, including demonstrators as well as the general public, to look out for anything out of the ordinary, including behaviors by groups that may cause a harmful or violent situation, and to report any such activities to the nearest security officers. Members of the media are also asked to continue reporting the facts and information to the public to create better understanding and prevent any panic.

Public Relations Section, CAPO
28 August 2009