The rule of law in practice

The situation in Thailand has been the center of attention in the German media for the past months. In addition to the demonstrations which continued for months recently the head of government and nine cabinet members had to resign from their posts following a ruling of the Constitutional Court. Since then the Thai army declared material law and the news on Thailand are changing by the minute.

One focus of the foundation’s work in Thailand is working with the Ministry of Justice in regard with injustice and usury debts. Therefore, the Foundation invited a twelve -member delegation from the Ministry of Justice and Chulalongkorn University for a visiting program to Germany. The aim was to get to know the German legal system in more detail in particular with its efforts against private debt.

The head of the delegation Suwana Suwanjuta, is the director of the Legal Aid Centre for debtors and victims of injustice, which is attached to the Ministry of Justice. Since its founding in 2010, the center has dealt with approximately 360 cases with a dispute value of more than 559 million baht (about € 12.4 million).

At the beginning of the visiting programme in Germany, the participants were informed about the proclamation of the “danger zone“ in Hamburg in November 2013, and its impact on the rule of law. The participants met the liberal parlamentarian Carl Jarchow, the domestic policy spokesman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Hamburg Parliament. The legal basis for the declaration of a danger area was explained to the delegation by three judges in the Hamburg Administrative Court.

The delegation moved on from Hamburg to the capital of Germany, Berlin. Not only the city of Berlin is deeply in debt, but also its inhabitants. Therefore Bettina Heine, board member of the Regional Working Group for debtors and insolvency consulting Berlin eV, reported of the measures taken by the asssociation to avert the debts already in the prevention stage. To establish equality before the courts in Germany, in civil as well as criminal cases the plaintiff and the accused can get legal aid and advice, or use an assigned counsel. Again, this shows the differences to Thailand.

Specifically, in the discussion with her German counterpart from the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Affairs, Mathias Hellmann, the participants saw possible approaches to a reform of the legal system and what the advantages of outsourcing consultancy organizations such as the debtor and insolvency advice or the consumer centers are.

Overall, besides the unstable situation to which the delegates returned, they were able to learn a lot about the German system and returned with new ideas for their work in Thailand.


Ulrich Niemann, Head of the department International Politics, welcoming the delegation at the headquaters in Potsdam

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