Thailand's junta chief has given the military broad new police-like powers to arrest and detain criminal suspects, in an unannounced move that rights groups criticized as a recipe for human rights violations.

The order issued by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha late Tuesday comes amid a wider crackdown on civil liberties in Thailand. On Tuesday, authorities charged a woman with sedition for posting a Facebook photo of herself holding a red plastic bowl seen as too politically charged.

The decree published in the Royal Gazette gives soldiers ranked sub-lieutenant and higher the power to summon, arrest and detain suspects in a wide range of crimes.

Since leading a May 2014 coup, Prayuth has restricted freedom pf speech, barred public protests and detained critics of the junta.