Judiciary and Judicialization in Thailand

Bjoern Dressel, Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang

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    The judiciary is one of Thailand’s most trusted governmental bodies. It is envisioned as the protector of civil rights and liberties and the guardian of the rule of law. But its involvement in several high-profile constitutional controversies over the last two decades has also prompted questions over its independence and judicial integrity. It is against this background that this chapter reviews the role of the judiciary in Thailand’s contemporary political landscape. We start by describing the history, structure, and institutional evolution of the judiciary with particular attention to the post-1997 period which saw a radical redesign of judicial institutions. We then discuss the growing role of courts in the political landscape – a phenomenon known as the judicialisation of politics – and ask why some courts but not others have become key political actors in the last two decades. We suggest that different institutional powers, ideological capture, and leadership among these courts have led to diverging trajectories, often with far-reaching consequences for governance of the country. Our chapter concludes with what our findings mean for the future of judicial independence and integrity in Thailand.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Contemporary Thailand
    EditorsPavin Chachavalpongpun
    Place of PublicationLondon
    ISBN (Print)9781138558410
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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