Tyrell Haberkorn was critical of the way the TRCT worked, especially the commission's location in an inaccessible bureaucratic complex:
In addition to the issue of distance, although the TRCT presents itself as an independent agency, holding the hearings at the Government Complex means that those who attend the hearings, who may be survivors of state violence, must enter a state space in order to give testimony about the violence they experienced.
The very title of the TRCT was a source of controversy; while sounding rather similar to the South African TRC, the phrase "truth for reconciliation" suggested that the purpose of finding out truth was to achieve reconciliation.
The TRCT pushed the envelope much further than previous bodies, such as the Black May 1992 investigation committee on which Kanit had served; (11) or the 2005-2006 National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) set up to examine the conflict in the south of Thailand.
The official mandate of the TRCT addressed only Verdeja's points 1 and 5; points 2 and 4, with their emphasis on reconciliation, were technically beyond the TRCT's remit, as was the "naming and shaming" suggested in point 3.
The TRCT asserted "the importance of implementing a system of transitional justice which is a mechanism for promoting the principles of justice in special situations" (TRCT 2011, 24).
The PIC was established by a group of academic and social activists who broadly sympathized with the protesters; their report, issued in August 2012, was entitled Truth for Justice--a deliberate play on the name of the TRCT (PIC 2012).
In its first interim report, the TRCT opened by highlighting five key objectives of its mission, including the following:
The emphasis on image creation also raised questions about the extent to which the TRCT was approaching its task of truth recovery with the necessary conceptual clarity (Smyth 2007, 23).
Rather than calling for reform of the Thai justice system as a whole, the TRCT suggested the exceptional conditions of intense political conflict meant that variations in normal practice might be adopted with respect to certain kinds of legal cases.
Opened in January 2012, the new detention center initially housed around fifty redshirts who had been charged with security-related offenses--but no yellowshirts, and despite Kanit's requests, no prisoners who had been remanded or convicted under Article 112 of the TRCT (lese majeste cases).
After repeated delays, the TRCT published its 276-page report in September 2012.