Thailand -Reduce Crimes Punishable by Death, Attorney Says

Reduce Crimes Punishable by Death, Attorney Says

Protesters call for end of the death penalty in Bangkok in an undated file photo. Image: Amnesty International Thailand.

BANGKOK — The number of crimes punishable by execution in Thai laws should be reduced in an attempt to decrease death row inmates, an attorney who campaigns for the end of capital punishment said Thursday.

Namtae Meeboonsalang, a Juvenile and Family Cases attorney in Kanchanaburi, made the call alongside other activists at a panel discussion that seeks to strike down execution from Thai justice system. The latest execution in Thailand took place in June 2018 by lethal injection after a nine-year lull.

“There are 55 crimes punishable by death, including drug trafficking and arson,” Namtae said.

Read: Officials Silent on Thailand’s 1st Execution in 9 Years

The lawyer said keeping death penalty in the laws risks sentencing innocent people to their death, because some police officers could remove or distort evidence resulting in trumped-up charges.

“They could delete CCTV footage or erase the crime scene whichever way they like,” Namtae said.

He spoke days after a judge in Yala province shot himself in an apparent suicide attempt to protest alleged interference from his supervisor. In a statement prepared before the shooting, judge Khanakorn Pianchana said he was pressured to find five men guilty of murder, which would possibly send them to the execution chamber.

Human rights lawyer Somchai Homlaor conceded that much of the public might not be in favor of abolishing the death penalty. He cited a 2017 survey in which 87 percent of respondents say execution should be kept in the laws.

The seminar on Oct. 10, 2019.
The seminar on Oct. 10, 2019.

Thailand is among 56 countries still maintaining the death penalty, while 106 countries have abolished capital punishment and another 28 have agreed to suspend it.

Campaigner Kessarin Tiawsakul said even when the death penalty is not actively enforced, it still imposes trauma on death row inmates. Kessarin said she conducted interviews with some of those prisoners in 2017, and found them to be suffering from emotional torture from not knowing when they would be executed.

“They live without knowing which day they would be taken to be executed. This is torture,” she said.

Unlike regular inmates, death row prisoners have no access to education, the campaigner said.

Several foreigners present at the seminar also urged Thailand to drop capital punishment, including French ambassador Jacques Lapouge who said ending death penalty in 1981 was a “obligation” for France.

French jurist Guillaume Simon also noted that a number of Asian countries and territories have already abolished the death penalty. Among them were Cambodia in 1989, Hong Kong in 1994 and Macau in 1979.

No representative from the Thai government attended today’s event. – Khaosood English, 10/10/2019

Network urges end of death penalty

41% of Thais back capital punishment

Activists rally in Bangkok in 2014 to urge for death penalty on rapists. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Activists rally in Bangkok in 2014 to urge for death penalty on rapists. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The Network for the Abolition of the Death Penalty on Thursday urged Thailand to make progress towards abolishing the death penalty by acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to end capital punishment.

Gothom Arya, a representative of the network, said at the panel held at Chulalongkorn University to mark World Day Against the Death Penalty — which fell on Thursday — that a push for an outright end to the death penalty in Thailand would be a difficult task because of the prevalent belief in society that a guilty person needs to go through his (or her) karma: if one commits a violent act, he deserves a violent consequence.

“There is a belief that if there’s no death penalty, convicts will return to society and harm again. I think the process towards abolishing the death penalty in Thailand is likely to be a time-consuming one,” he said.

According to a survey conducted by Mahidol University, 41% of Thais want to keep the death penalty, while 51% were undecided.

Only 8% of the population supported abolishing it.

Mr Gothom said although Thailand may not be able to push for an outright end to the death penalty, the country can make progress by acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which allows member countries to gradually reduce the number of crimes liable to capital punishment instead of pushing for an outright end.

“If the death penalty is maintained, Thailand should take all measures necessary to ensure that it is limited to the most serious crimes, such as acts carried out with the intention of killing,” he said.

Mr Gothom said Thailand is now among a number of countries in the world where the death penalty is known to have been imposed or implemented for drug-related, corruption and bribery offences, which do not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes.

Atcharapan Jaraswathana, a professor of Criminology at Mahidol University, said there is no evidence the death penalty has any unique deterrent effect, so the hope of Thai authorities’ that the death penalty will reduce crime is misguided.

“The death penalty is ultimately a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which provides no quick-fixes to problems the authorities want to confront,” she said.

Jacques Lapouge, the Ambassador of France to Thailand, said France and the European Union firmly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. – Bangkok Post, 11/10/2019

 

Thailand – Network urges end of death penalty

Network urges end of death penalty

41% of Thais back capital punishment

Activists rally in Bangkok in 2014 to urge for death penalty on rapists. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Activists rally in Bangkok in 2014 to urge for death penalty on rapists. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The Network for the Abolition of the Death Penalty on Thursday urged Thailand to make progress towards abolishing the death penalty by acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to end capital punishment.

Gothom Arya, a representative of the network, said at the panel held at Chulalongkorn University to mark World Day Against the Death Penalty — which fell on Thursday — that a push for an outright end to the death penalty in Thailand would be a difficult task because of the prevalent belief in society that a guilty person needs to go through his (or her) karma: if one commits a violent act, he deserves a violent consequence.

“There is a belief that if there’s no death penalty, convicts will return to society and harm again. I think the process towards abolishing the death penalty in Thailand is likely to be a time-consuming one,” he said.

According to a survey conducted by Mahidol University, 41% of Thais want to keep the death penalty, while 51% were undecided.

Only 8% of the population supported abolishing it.

Mr Gothom said although Thailand may not be able to push for an outright end to the death penalty, the country can make progress by acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which allows member countries to gradually reduce the number of crimes liable to capital punishment instead of pushing for an outright end.

“If the death penalty is maintained, Thailand should take all measures necessary to ensure that it is limited to the most serious crimes, such as acts carried out with the intention of killing,” he said.

Mr Gothom said Thailand is now among a number of countries in the world where the death penalty is known to have been imposed or implemented for drug-related, corruption and bribery offences, which do not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes.

Atcharapan Jaraswathana, a professor of Criminology at Mahidol University, said there is no evidence the death penalty has any unique deterrent effect, so the hope of Thai authorities’ that the death penalty will reduce crime is misguided.

“The death penalty is ultimately a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which provides no quick-fixes to problems the authorities want to confront,” she said.

Jacques Lapouge, the Ambassador of France to Thailand, said France and the European Union firmly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. – Bangkok Post, 11/10/2019

Thailand – Activist call for abolition of DP – starting with ban on death sentences for female convicts

Rights activists push for ban on death sentences for female convicts

national January 16, 2019 01:00

By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

HUMAN RIGHTS defenders are calling for an end to capital punishment for women as a next step forward to achieving the universal abolition of death sentences in Thailand.

A public forum hosted by the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) on Monday discussed a proposal to ban the death sentence for female inmates in Thailand, and concluded that executing women is not only ineffective in suppressing crimes but also contributes to additional social problems.

Assoc Professor Gothom Arya, director of Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, has pushed for the abolishment of capital punishment for all convicts, but acknowledged strong public opinion in favour of retaining the sentence.

A gradual step-by-step approach to abolition would better suit the country, Gothom suggested, adding that it is more practical than going against majority public opinion and abolishing it in one move.

Thailand has already abolished death sentence for pregnant women and youth, so it appears the next step would be to officially end the execution of female convicts,” he said.

“We need a new round of legislative reforms that abolishes the execution of women, just like our current law prohibits the execution of pregnant women and youth.

In addition to an active campaign for legislative reform, he emphasised that human-rights defenders must work on raising public awareness so society can understand the flaws of capital punishment.

Though the execution of women is not common in Thailand – with only three female convicts executed since 1932, with the last being put to death 19 years ago – it is believed neither male nor female convicts are safe from capital punishment under the current political climate.

Last year Thailand was on the verge of being recognised for not carrying out a death sentence for 10 consecutive years. Despite capital punishment still being meted out by judges, no convict had been put to death in Thailand since 2009. However, this record was broken when the authorities executed a 26-year-old male convict on June 18, 2018.

Most countries have stopped carrying out the death sentence. The UCL has been campaigning against capital punishment, as this unacceptable practice is in direct conflict with the basic principles of human rights. The group said Thailand will ultimately find it impossible to go against the global trend.

Also, the UCL noted that putting female convicts to death has proved to be ineffective in maintaining justice in society and has  led to tougher social problems.

Angkhana Neelapaijit, a National Human Rights Commissioner (NHRC), noted that studies on the statistics and backgrounds of female prisoners in Thailand have found that most were sentenced for crimes related to domestic violence and narcotics.

“These crimes were not caused by personal wickedness. Instead, these women were forced by the circumstances, their environment and problems in our social structure to commit these crimes. So killing these women will not solve the problem,” she said.

Hence, she said, the authorities should change their attitude toward the corrections system and prioritise treatment for the wrongdoers and turn them into good citizens, instead of punishing them severely for their crimes.

Human-rights lawyer Natthasiri Bergman emphasised that many women behind bars were breadwinners and mothers, so locking them away or putting them to death greatly affects their families.

Natthasiri also cautioned that keeping these women away from their children forces the young ones to grow without maternal care.

“The impact from the absence of a mother is significant, and can contribute to more crimes, violence and other social problems in the future,” she added. – The Nation, 16/1/2018

 

Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) is a member of ADPAN