Kanit na Nakorn, chairman of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, has called for social sanctions against actions deemed to be wrongful. He has urged that reconciliation be achieved over time and according to justice, not dragged down by majority votes, and that the voice of the minority be respected. The justice system, he says, must be strong but efficient.
What is the essence of the committee's third report on reconciliation?
We clearly point out in the report that a reconciliation process takes time and patience from all sides. My committee was established on July 17 two years ago, and at that time [red-shirt leader] Nattawut [Saikua] was shackled, which was not right. Our committee believes if suspects pose no flight risk, they should not be shackled. We made the suggestion to the Abhisit government to follow international standards on that aspect.
We also suggested it may not be necessary to detain suspects accused of murder if it is unlikely they will escape to kill witnesses. If they have assets to post bail, they should get bail, even though the law does not say [anything] about this. When suspects are detained, they struggle to get out of jail and this leads to the business of bail posting; there are professional guarantors and companies seeking business interests from them. This problem however can be manageable. Our committee went to Ubon Ratchathani last year and found a family that had to borrow Bt1 million from a loan shark to post bail for a suspect.
The justice procedure is expensive.
Our justice system is inefficient because we cannot bring culprits to justice. Second, the system violates human rights by not giving them bail. If a court gives a verdict that the suspect is innocent, then taxpayers have to foot the bill for rehabilitation. Mistakes in the justice system must be kept to a minimum. Third, the number of our justice officials, police, prosecutors and judges, is higher than in Japan, whereas the Japanese population is double ours. Personnel costs are higher and the state has to cover the cost of feeding 200,000 detainees.
The problem is structural?
When the 1997 Constitution was being drafted, I successfully pushed for the court to issue arrest and search warrants, which were the police's responsibility. I found that our justice system was not efficient because of three bad types of behaviour: first, people who do not take their jobs seriously but only work to pass their days; second, people who are too fearful of their bosses and are afraid to help justice prevail; and third, people who only flatter their bosses.
Your suggestions are not accepted because people who are adversely affected resist changes?
I believe our society is authoritarian. Anything to do with rights and liberty will come last. When we do not give importance to this, there is injustice in society.
Justice procedures can help bring about reconciliation.
A strong justice procedure can prevent a coup. Every time there is a coup, they cite corruption. For instance at Suvarnabhumi, I still follow corruption cases up till today - but I see nothing. Who can cite corruption, if we can manage it?
Coups bring about conflict.
If our justice system is strong, we can get rid of mafias, the country will be in peace. Don Mueang had a problem of parking lots. If Suvarnabhumi can manage the problem, the country is in peace. The justice system of a developed country is strong.
Expunging cases pursued by the Assets Examination Committee means our justice system is weak.
I do not want to get into politics. I speak only as a matter of principle. We have problems with law and legal officials. We amend laws only to increase punishment and never to improve the justice procedures. Our committee finds truth not to punish but to publicise what is right and wrong.
What should politicians do?
Germany is developed because its House committee chairmen come from a minority camp. The majority must respect the minority. I have never seen any country amend criminal law through emergency decree, which should be used only for emergency issues.
What is your view on discussing reconciliation in the House?
To bring about peace, we must [practise] high justice and every process must take time.
What could spark the next conflict?
I believe every sector of society is highly aware of the country's problems. It is not easy to do something nonsensical.
What is the committee's suggestion for preventing conflict?
I wonder if our society gives pardons too easily.
Can giving a pardon for a wrongdoing and reconciliation go together?
We must fight against bad deeds. I never invite competent lawyers to teach my students if they have a bad name.
What should the public do?
They must exercise social sanctions.
What effect can social sanctions have if legislation is done only in Parliament?
Look at Japanese prime ministers - they quit if they think things don't look good. The majority must respect the minority voice.