Thailand: Action, not words, needed to abolish the death penalty

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
and its member organization in Thailand
Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)

Joint press release

Thailand: Action, not words, needed to abolish the death penalty

 

Paris, Bangkok, 9 October 2014: Thailand must go beyond words and take rapid and tangible steps to abolish the death penalty, FIDH and its member organization UCL said one day before the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty (10 October 2014).

On 22 July 2014, in a letter to the UN General Assembly’s President which contained Thailand’s candidature for a seat at the UN Human Rights Council for the 2015-2017 term, Thailand pledged to “study the possibility” of abolishing capital punishment. Thailand’s third National Human Rights Plan also mentioned the possibility of abolishing the death penalty.

Thailand must quickly turn its tepid commitment to consider the abolition of the death penalty into concrete action. This includes the ratification of relevant international instruments and the adoption of necessary domestic laws that will finally make state-sanctioned killing an aberration of the past,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

Recent political and social developments in the country have created conditions that risk undermining efforts to abolish capital punishment. The National Human Rights Plan was expected to be submitted to the Cabinet earlier this year. However, its status remains unclear following the22 May military coup.

In addition, instead of proposing the reduction of the number of offenses that are punishable by death, decision-makers, politicians, and activists have recently supported the introduction of new capital crimes.

On 19 September, it was reported that Thailand’s military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), proposed a bill that prescribed the death penalty for those found guilty of causing the closure of an airport or damaging airport facilities or aircraft at an airport. The proposed legislation has already passed its first reading in the junta-backed National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

On 14 July, it was reported that former Home Affairs Deputy Minister and Phum Jai Thai Party MP Boonchong Wongtrasirat proposed the amendment of existing laws in order to make the buying and selling of votes and offence that is punishable by death.

Following the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl on a Bangkok-train on 6 July, activists and key public figures launched a campaign that called for the death penalty for convicted rapists.

Emotional responses to political developments or horrendous crimes are major setbacks on the path to the abolition of the death penalty in Thailand,” said UCL Senior Advisor Danthong Breen. “Decision-makers must reject capital punishment as a solution. Vengeance achieves nothing, fails as a deterrent, and exacerbates the culture of violence.”

FIDH and UCL urge Thailand to announce an official moratorium on capital punishment, to sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and to vote in favor of a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in December.

As of 31 August, there were 623 prisoners (572 men and 51 women) under death sentence in Thailand. Forty percent of the men and 82% percent of the women were sentenced to death for drug-related offenses.

Thailand has not executed anyone since 24 August 2009, when two men, Bundit Jaroenwanit, 45, and Jirawat Poompreuk, 52, were put to death by lethal injection with just one-hour notice at Bang Khwang Prison, located just north of Bangkok. The two had been convicted of drug trafficking on 29 March 2001.

FIDH is a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

–END–


Press contacts:
Arthur Manet (French, English and Spanish)  – Phone: +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris) – email:presse@fidh.org
Audrey Couprie (French, English and Spanish) – Phone: +33 6 48 05 91 57 (Paris) – email:presse@fidh.org

The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, is an international human rights NGO representing 178 organizations from close to 120 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

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