Thailand - Judicial system

The 1997 constitution provided for an independent judiciary and the guarantee of basic civil liberties. Courts of the first instance, juvenile courts, and magistrates' courts exist in Bangkok and in each of the provincial capitals. There are nine regional courts of appeal, and a Court of Appeal, sitting in Bangkok, hears cases for the entire kingdom. The Supreme Court, also in Bangkok, consists of at least three judges and decides only on points of law. Judges in Thailand are appointed (and removed) by the king. All appointments are subject to initial approval by a judicial commission. There is no trial by jury in Thailand.

The constitution also provided for establishment of a constitutional tribunal to adjudicate disputes among the courts. Military courts deal primarily with military justice, but have broader jurisdiction when martial law is in force. There is no appeal of decisions by military courts. Defendants in ordinary criminal courts are afforded a wide range of procedural due process protections. Although there is no right to counsel during the investigative phase of cases, detainees are afforded access to counsel during trial.

Islamic courts hear civil cases concerning members of the Muslim minority. The legal system is based on civil law with common law influence.

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