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Thailand's lower house passes amnesty bill; Shinawatra could return

Nov. 1, 2013 at 9:15 AM

BANGKOK, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Thailand's lower house of Parliament passed an amnesty bill Friday that would allow former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return to the country.

The bill now goes to the Senate and passage could take place as early as next week, the BBC reported.

The opposition Democratic Party warned if the bill passes demonstrators could take to the streets alleging that human rights abuses would go unpunished.

The bill would allow anyone investigated following the 2006 coup that removed Shinawatra from power to receive amnesty, including the former prime minister, who has been living in exile in Dubai, the BBC said.

"The proposed amnesty would allow officials and protest leaders who have blood on their hands to go unpunished," said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "By whitewashing past abuses, the government denies justice to victims and tells future abusers they have little to fear."

Supporters of the bill said it would alleviate tensions that were left from the 2006 coup.