Cover of Dictatorship on Trial by Tyrell Haberkorn
Dictatorship on Trial
Coups and the Future of Justice in Thailand
Tyrell Haberkorn

June 2024
248 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503635463
Paperback ISBN: 9781503639409



In 2014, after a decade of political turmoil, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) carried out Thailand's 13th coup since the country's transformation from absolute to constitutional monarchy in 1932. Though the NCPO promised to restore the rule of law, justice—long tenuous in Thailand—disappeared entirely. The legal system was used to criminalize the thoughts and actions of democratic dissidents, facilitate extrajudicial violence, and guarantee impunity for the coup and crimes by state officials. Combining legal and historical scholarship and long-term courtroom observation, Dictatorship on Trial traces the legal, social, and political impacts of authoritarianism, and foregrounds court decisions as both a history of repression and a site in which to imagine future justice.

Organized chronologically across the five years of the NCPO regime, each chapter takes up a different political case and enumerates the ways in which political activists were made vulnerable rather than protected by the state's interpretations of the law, and the mechanisms through which perpetrators evaded accountability. Inspired by feminist legal scholars, the substantive analysis in each chapter is followed by new, rewritten judgments created in collaboration with Thai human rights activists. In plotting these alternative logics, interpretations of evidence, and conclusions, Tyrell Haberkorn outlines what true justice might look like, and assesses the legal and political transformations necessary to realize it.

About the author

Tyrell Haberkorn is Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.