Sunday, September 19, 2010
Red Shirts for Juries
Thailand's Red Shirts seem to have included fair trials in their list of demands for the Abhisit government. Typically, their demands have centered on socioeconomic issues and "justice" for Thaksin. Now, according to The Nation, Red Shirts in Chiang Mai are "calling for... a change in the justice system to more trials by jury."
It would be interesting to see where this particular demand comes from. Thailand of course is a civil law country and has no jury system. Recently, other Asian civil law countries, such as Japan and Korea, have experimented with juries in criminal trials. Some research suggests jury trials reduce judicial corruption.
However, a jury trial might also be a means for Red Shirts, traditionally identified as populists in the political spectrum, to inject popular representation into the judiciary, which, as I've argued elsewhere, is still a fairly conservative institution. It could also have some resonance in delegitimizing the judiciary's past decisions against Thaksin under the logic that such important criminal cases were not subjected to popular scrutiny.
In the current environment, I would be surprised if the Abhisit government did adopt jury trials. It will be interesting to see whether the rule of law NGOs operating in Thailand, such as the American Bar Association, throw their support behind jury trials...