The government of Thailand has extended a state of emergency in the country for a further three months as unrest continues to simmer.
The move comes despite warnings from international human rights groups the state of emergency lacks transparency and suppresses freedom of expression.
Pictured: Protests turned violent earlier this year
Areas of around Bangkok are included in the ruling, with a total of 19 provinces – out of a total of 76 - continuing to operate under emergency powers.
Officials did, however, lift the state of emergency from five provinces.
“The cabinet endorsed the lifting of the state of emergency in five provinces,” deputy government spokesman Supachai Jaismut told reporters.
“Emergency rule will still be imposed in the rest.”
The strict laws – which were implemented in April following deadly protests by Red Shirt demonstrators - ban public gatherings of more than five people and give security forces the right to detain suspects for 30 days without charge.
While initially peaceful nearly 90 people — most of them protesters — were eventually killed as a result of the protests as troops attempted to clear ad-hoc settlements in the centre of Bangkok.
A further 1,400 people were injured during nine weeks of massive demonstrations.
The Red Shirt movement is loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and largely comprises urban and rural poor, democracy activists and politicians, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup on corruption allegations.
Officially entitled the he United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), protestors have demanded the resignation and exile of prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, as well as the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections.
On May 3rd the prime minister proposed a five-point Reconciliation Plan, which included the dissolution of Parliament and new elections on November 14th 2010.
The Internal Security Act has been in force since the protests began and an Emergency Decree was declared on April 7th; both confer enormous powers on the military, while the latter has been extended to cover nearly half of Thailand.
However, Amnesty International points out, Thailand has acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides the right to life cannot be restricted even “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation.”
The human rights body is calling for the government to relinquish such powers.