Thursday, January 17, 2019

Outline of talk on Execution of Women, January 14th Bangkok

                                          Ginggaew Lorsoongnern, Executed, Thailand
                                       Mary Jane Veloso - sentenced to death in Indonesia
                                       Asia Bibi, Death sentence under review in Pakistan

14th January “Women, Imprisonment and the Death Penalty in Thailand”
                                                             Asia Bibi
  1. “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”

12 year journey, the way still unclear

  1. Assent of PUBLIC OPINION!
    UNGA 2018 123 countries 2016 117 countries
UCL campaigns over 12 yearss
a. Legal arguments
b. Religious arguments
c. Drugs
d. Case histories, “Roads to Death”
e. Rights of victims
f. Terrorist deaths

NOW: Abolition itself 
3. Experience of Robert Badinter: “I dreamt of a justice expressed in terms of liberty, the French people wanted a justice based on security”
Spoke throughout France on the right to life, met with disagreement and objections, always the same arguments. As in Thailand.

“Justice of reinsertion, or justice of elimination?”

“Lethal criminality does not depend on the presence or absence of the death penalty”

In 1981, François Mitterrand was elected president, and Badinter became the Minister of Justice. Among his first actions was a bill to the French Parliament that abolished the death penalty for all crimes, which the Parliament voted after heated debate on 30 September 1981
    4. Example of Ruth Ellis, executed in UK, 1954, women not to be executed.
    Mongolia: Abolitio)n of death penalty for women 2002. Total abolition 2012
Abolition of execution of women. (Date of total abolition
Austria (1950) The last woman sentenced to death by an ordinary court was Juliane Hummel. She was pole hanged for the murder of her five year old daughter, Anna, on the 2nd of January 1900 at Vienna.
Belgium (1996) The last woman sentenced to death by an ordinary court was Euphrasie-Félicie Deroux, for the murder of her child at the Cour d'assises of the province of Hainaut. She was guillotined at Mons on the 22nd of June 1846.
Denmark (1930). The last official execution was conducted in Copenhagen on ”Rødovre Mark” when Ane Cathrine Andersdatter was beheaded by axe on the 21st of December 1861. She had been sentenced to death for the murder of three of her five children.
England (1969). Ruth Ellis was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint at Holloway prison in North London on Wednesday, the 13th of July, 1955 for the murder of her boyfriend David Blakely
France (1981). On the 22nd of April 1949 Germaine Leloy-Godefroy (age 31) became the last woman executed in France, when she was executed in France, when she was guillotined for murdering her husband
Switzerland (1942). The last woman executed in Switzerland was Geneviève Guénat, who was beheaded by sword for murder at Delsberg, in the canton of Bern, on the 7th of September 1861.
Ireland (1990). Annie Walsh was hanged at Dublin’s Mountjoy prison on the 5th of August 1925, together with her nephew, Michael Talbot for the murder of her husband, Edward.

Thailand's 3rd Human rights plan, envisaged Moratorium (“Abolition) by end of 2014

5. Current Statistics for death sentences in Thailand
Total prison population 349,804 (M 303,717 F 46,087): 82% of imprisoned women are mothers
Condemned to death 517 (M 415 F 102)
- on drug charges 296 (M 201 F 95)
- on other charges 221 (M 214 F 7)
Currently 88 women: Totally unacceptable prison conditions, (“Centres of evil”!) for these, and all women prisoners

  1. Horror of execution of women
    “Successful” and botched executions
    Ginggaew Lorsoongnern,
    Tran Thi Bich Hang, see cover
    Mary Jane Veloso
    (see witch hunting and burning, also Thailand's intolerable prison conditions for women
The Thai women executed since 1932 were:
1.Yai Sonthibumroong, 25 February 1942
2. Ginggaew Lorsoongnern, 13 January 1979,  accomplice to murder of kidnapped child
3. Samai Pan-in, 24 November 1999, drug dealer

  1. Women
“ But how can we mechanize washing, cuddling, consoling, dressing, and feeding a child, providing sexual services, or assisting those who are ill or elderly and not self-sufficient? What machine could incorporate the skillls and affects needed for these tasks? Attempts have been made with the creation of nursebots and interactive lovebots, and it is possible that in the future we may see the production of mechanical mothers. But even assuming that we could afford such devices, we must wonder at what emotional cost we could introduce them in our homes in replacement of living labour......
domestic work, and especially the care of children, constitutes most of the work on this planet, is of a highly relational nature and hardly subject to mechanization”

Women are irreplaceable!
So don't execute them!


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Senator Leila M. De Lima

Senator Leila de Lima of the Philippines is imprisoned in the Philippines for her opposition to extra-judicial killings, a death penalty without legal procedure. She has expressed support on this website for total abolition. The following message is released from her isolated imprisonment.



Today, 10 December 2018, the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of that extraordinary document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).  Born from the havoc of the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust, the UDHR was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to be promoted by education, and, more optimistically, by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”

For 70 years since its adoption, the UDHR has been a bedrock of freedom and equality all across the world, lifting the lives of billions of people in the planet, influencing almost a hundred national Constitutions and inspiring numerous international, regional and national laws, institutions and mechanisms. For all its gains and achievements, the UDHR, as Eleanor Roosevelt (chair of the committee that drafted it) had prophesied, “might well become the international Magna Carta of mankind.”

Seven (7) decades since the birth of the UDHR, the work that it has set out for all of us to do is far from over. And, it will never be over as the world now faces an almost endless barrage of attacks on human dignity and freedom. 

UDHR proclaims that we are born free and equal, but millions do not stay free and equal as their rights have been trampled upon on a regular basis. We see this in various conflict-stricken places, like Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and a number of countries in Central America.

UDHR promises that  we are all “entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms …can be fully realized”, but institutions and systems established in many countries to protect the dignity and liberty of human persons have either been mangled or undermined. We witness this in the decimation of democratic opposition in Cambodia, in the massive displacement and violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, and the unabated killings and disappearances of thousands of poor Filipinos under Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody and sham “war on drugs.” 

            Now, more than ever, the 30 pathbreaking articles of the UDHR and the principles behind them have become relevant. And, it is the duty of every one – every individual and organ of society, as the UDHR puts it – to promote and protect our common rights and freedoms.

            There is observation about the growing absence of human rights leadership in the world today. There are dissension and discord in major liberal democracies. Some governments themselves, led mostly by populist demagogues and autocrats, have actually attacked their own people.  And, far too many politicians and so-called leaders – including those in my country, the Philippines – seem to have forgotten the UDHR.

            But, causes for continued optimism remain. Still intact are the admirable legacy of the UDHR, the endurance of some relevant conventions, treaties and international law, and the resilience of a vibrant global human rights movement. Hope springs eternal for human rights.

            The momentum and progress on the areas of human dignity and freedom now largely depend on the action and solidarity of some enlightened inter-government bodies, a number of progressive governments, and countless civil society organizations, including activist groups and individuals. This new movement for human dignity and equality has the advantages of reputational standing, institutional resources, and renewed passion. It is impervious to the partisan narrow-mindedness, selfishness and neglect of our leaders.

            We must then come together in our common defense of human rights. We cannot remain quiet and rely passively on governments. We the people ourselves have to act – act urgently and in solidarity with one another. We must be able to demonstrate, now and always, what the UDHR’s preamble declares that indeed the “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”                  

            Let us all shine our light for dignity, freedom and equality of every one. Each has the power and the duty to make a difference – to make our homes, communities, countries, and our world safer, just and more humane for all of us.

#Stand up for human rights!

                                                                                               LEILA M. DE LIMA

PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame
10 December 2018

World Majority Against Death Penalty Increases Further


In a two yearly vote on a world wide moritorium on the death penalty, those in favour increase further
Today the international community offered unprecedented support to a UN call to halt executions when the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly considered a draft resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

 A total of 123 UN member states – the highest number on record to date – voted in favour of the proposal, mirroring recent increases in the number of countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice globally.

A minority of countries, 36, voted against the proposal and 30 abstained at the vote. For the first time, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica and Malaysia positively changed their vote to support the resolution, while Antigua and Barbuda moved from opposition to abstention. Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles once again voted in favour of the call for a moratorium on executions, after they did not do so in 2016. Only two countries negatively changed their votes compared to December 2016, with Bahrain switching from abstention to voting against and Suriname from voting in favour to abstention.

The increase in the support for the draft resolution offers yet another indication that the world’s direction on the death penalty continues to be in favour of its eventual abolition. Since the adoption of the last UNGA moratorium resolution in 2016, indefinite stays of execution were put in place in Gambia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea and several other countries have taken important steps to move in this direction. In 2017 Guinea and Mongolia each abolished the death penalty for all crimes and Guatemala became abolitionist for ordinary crimes only. Burkina Faso was the last country to have removed the death penalty from its Criminal Code last June, while Gambia ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, last September. The weight of the death penalty is carried by an isolated group of countries. In 2017 executions were reported in 22 UN member states, 11% of the total. Of these executing countries, only 11, or 6%, were “persistent” executioners, meaning that they carried out executions every year in the previous five years.
Amnesty International & Comunità di Sant'Egidio published on November 16th, 2018

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Asia Bibi

                                        The condemnation to death of Asia Bibi
The trial and condemnation to death of Asia Bibi is certainly one of the most horrifying examples of death penalty. She is a Christian Pakistani woman, convicted and sentenced to death by a Pakistani Court in November 2010. The facts of the case have always been subject to fierce debate. Yet, inconsistencies in witness testimonies and fragmented evidence did not prevent the court from securing Bibi’s conviction and from passing the death sentence. In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld her death sentence. Nonetheless, the execution was stayed in July 2015, when the Pakistani Supreme Court agreed to hear her appeal. It was listed to take place during October 2016. Unfortunately, the appeal had to be adjourned after one of the three judges due to hear the case, Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, recused himself quoting a conflict of interests. Two years later, on October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court handed down the judgement acquitting Asia Bibi. The judgment indicated that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. 

The decision of Pakistan’s highest court appears to matter little to the protesters. They have little respect for law and legal procedure.

Obscurity surrounds the case. Despite the acquittal, it was announced that Bibi had not been released, and that in any event, she would not be allowed to leave Pakistan. Then it was announced that she had left for an unknown destination. Clearly, if released in Pakistan she would have been brutally murdered by frantic mobs. Her husband and lawyer, are also trying to find refuge abroad, as are two of the judges who agreed to her acquittal.  Even before the acquittal, Shabez Bhutti, Minister of Minorities, and Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, who visited Asia Bibi in prison and argued her innocence were assassinated. The former was murdered by Taliban, the latter by his own bodyguard. 
It is clear that forcing Asia Bibi, now 47 years of age, to stay in Pakistan amounts to the imposition of a death sentence, what changes is that the execution will most likely come at the hands of an angry mob, not under the control of the justice system. This prediction is not far removed from reality, protesters are already calling for Asia to be hanged, and a mullah in Peshawar has promised a fortune, 500,000 rupees to anyone who kills her.

While details of the original offense are obscure, it relates to the alleged ritual impurity of a non-Muslim woman in an environment of fanatical religion. What was Asia Bibi accused of?

The trial stems from an argument Asia Bibi had with a group of women in June 2009.They were harvesting fruit in the full heat of the sun when a row broke out about a cup of water. Asia herself describes the incident which took place beside a well:

"I pull up a bucketful of water and dip in the old metal cup resting on the side of the well. The cool water is all I can think of. I gulp it down and I feel better. I...fill the cup again, this time holding it out to a woman next to me...She smiles and reaches out...There is a cry, 'Don't drink that water, it's haram!
'Listen all of you, this Christian has dirtied the water in the well by drinking from our cup and dipping it back in.. Now the water is unclean and we can't drink it"

Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response.
She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation.

Whatever the details, the fault is trivial. What arose in the subsequent verbal brawl cannot be more serious than the alleged uncleanliness. There are photographs of demented crowds calling for the hanging of Bibi. This is certainly not the teaching of the Prophet whose action to save the life of a woman taken in adultery is as striking as an identical event in the life of the founder of another world religion. Such actions strike at the heart of humanity, beyond all laws, religions, legal systems and ethical standards. 
Details of the incident are taken from "Blasphemy, the true heart-breaking story of the woman sentenced to death over a cup of water" Asia Bibi, who is illiterate, related the event in secret to a French journalist, through her husband who alone could visit her. Hachette Digital, London 2011
The book reveals her deep devotion to her husband and five children, all of whose lives are in danger.
                                                      Men call for death of Bibi


   In surat 5 of verse 32, the Koran teaches that anyone who kills an innocent person kills all  mankind, and anyone who saves a life saves all mankind

November 10: Scared of Muslim backlash, UK denies asylum to Asia Bibi

November 14: A voice of reason
Prominent British Muslims, including three imams - Qari Asim, Mamadou Bocoum and Dr Usama Hasan - have written a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javidasking him "to make a clear and proactive statement that Britain would welcome a request for sanctuary here" The letter, also signed by MPs from across the political divide, goes on: "We are confident that action to ensure Asia Bibi and her family are safe would be very widely welcomed by most people in Britain, across every faith in our society. "If there are intolerant fringe voices who would object, they must be robustly challenged, not indulged."

November 12: Bibi's lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulooktold the Bild am Sonntag German newspaper that Asia Bibi "would be happy if she could leave for Germany with her family."

Bibi, who was acquitted by Pakistan's Supreme Court on blasphemy charges on October 31, is reportedly still in Pakistan despite her release from jail. Her life is in extreme danger, from frantic Muslim extremists 
Mulook fled Pakistan to the Netherlands a day after the court's decision.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Singapore kills again, and again, and again.....

In an unannounced hanging, Selemat Bin Paki was hanged yesterday in Singapore.

Two other condemned prisoners await execution, scheduled for today.

On October 25th Singapore's Supreme Court sentenced to death a 30 year old security guard, Gabi Avedian charged with importing 40.22 g of heroin, overruling an Appeal Court sentence of 15 years imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane on a less severe charge of attempted trafficking.
The sentencing judges had "grave reservations" about testimony of assurances given to Gabi when he undertook delivery,  that the drugs were not heroin
The sentence raises a semantic issue. It would appear that "grave reservations" outweigh the standard for capital punishment sentencing, requiring evidence of guilt to be "beyond reasonable doubt". Would the scales of justice hang even for the one against the other? Are life and death in Singapore dependent on so fine an issue

Singapore has already execute six persons this year, perhaps eight by today

Friday, October 05, 2018

Singapore kills again

deathpenaltythailand has long been a friend and admirer of  Singapore lawyer Ravi. I am familiar with his method of engagement for those whose lives he tries to save. First, he engages with the family of the accused, learning all he can about the life of his client. He asks for some small object which was a treasured possession of the accused and keeps it before him to remind him continually of the real person involved. Then he devotes his excellent legal skills to explore every avenue of defense. I have heard all too often of court appointed lawyers who meet for the first time with the accused on the day of trial, and choose the easy option of recommending an admission of guilt, which may result in a life sentence rather than the death penalty. The tactics of defense of Ravi are often ingenious, exploiting every possible flaw in the arguments of the prosecution. His dearest clients are those most disadvantaged in society. His greatest suffering is to meet with failure and see another life sacrificed on the alter of "Justice".    

"I just received heartbreaking news from 2 lawyers representing drug traffickers that their clients are going to be hanged at 6am tomorrow. In total there will be three state sanctioned executions- Zainuddin, Abdul Wahid and another - all for drug trafficking. A dark day for me as I felt helpless when one of the lawyers asked me to help his client whom he says is 100% innocent.I know he has done his best and is as desperate as I am thinking about what can be done. This will be one of the highest number of hangings in a single day in recent times. I will be writing to the authorities to halt the executions and to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, though I know this will fall on deaf ears as has done before ..... I will be heading to Changi prison later to say a prayer and to express my solidarity with the families of the 3 victims of yet more state murders."

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Death Penalty in Malaysia for providing free cannibis oil to patients

"Death sentence for Malaysia man who gave patients free cannibis oil"
See website <>

 death penaltythailand usually provides a synopsis  of such a story, but for some reason this site is guarded by the most extensive legal gobbledegook ever encountered. Please  follow at the above url. The image is not from this source. Only the heading is reproduced

A more detailed account of the case is available. For full detail see

Shah Alam High Court, Selangor, Malaysia
Criminal Trial 45A – 83 – 09/2015
Thursday, 30 August 2018, MUHAMMAD LUKMAN BIN MOHAMAD (HealTHCare) was convicted and condemned to death by Shah Alam High court judge Dato ‘Haji Ghazali bin Haji Cha. He was charge under Section 39B Dangerous Drug Act for possession 3.01 litre Cannabis oil and 279 grams of compressed cannabis. He was arrested at residence on December 7 2015 along with his wife who was his 6 months pregnant.
Lukman was represented by lawyer Farhan Maaruf. Farhan had argued that Lukman was not involved in any crime or a criminal that threatened national security. He was not associated with any illegal syndicates but merely collaborated with several independent organizations such as Bani Tenang dan G.E.N.G.G.A.M (Gerakan Edukasi Ganja Malaysia/ Malaysia Ganja Education Movement) that focused on educating the public on medical marijuana. The cannabis oils were intended to treat diseases and not to get high or any criminal activities as claimed by the prosecutor.  For those who were too poor to pay, Lukman provided them with free cannabis oil. All these demonstrates that HealTHCare was not a profit-making syndicate.
Lukman is in Kajang Prison, awaiting for his appeal at Court of Appeal.

Any support and inquiry from the public may contact his lawyer, Farhan Maaruf & Co at 018-566399 @ 03-64129063 @ Fax: 03-64129063.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Website Statistics

Viewers of this website

         Spain 163
         Thailand 84
         United States 82
         Latvia 53
         France 37
         Russia 24
         Brazil 18
         China  17
         Unknown Region 16
         Indonesia 16

Courtesy of 25/8/2018 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Summary of the 63 crimes incurring the death penalty in Thailand

Aggravated Murder.
The following aggravated forms of murder are punishable by death: committing murder “by employing torture or acts of cruelty;” murder of an ascendant, murder of an official, or murder of those who assist officials; murder to prepare or facilitate another offense; murder “for the purpose of securing the benefit obtained through any other offence or of concealing any other offence or of escaping punishment for any other offence committed by him;” murder or attempted murder of a member of the royal family; [6] and murder or attempted murder of a foreign head of state that has friendly relations with Thailand.
Murder (even without aggravating factors) is punishable by death.
Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
The following offenses are punishable by death if they result in the death of a victim, even in the absence of an intent to cause death: committing a theft or a gang-robbery; raping a woman or girl or committing “indecent acts” on a child under the age of 15; having sexual relations with a girl under the age of 15, even if they are consensual; forcibly detaining, enslaving or trafficking a child under 15 years; kidnapping to obtain a ransom or supporting such an offense; and committing arson or causing an explosion. Causing (or attempting to cause) the death of a member of the royal family, the head of a foreign friendly state or an accredited foreign representative is also punishable by death, and it is unclear whether the law requires evidence of intent.

In March 2015, the National Legislative Assembly voted to amend the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008 to make human trafficking a capital offense if it causes a trafficking victim’s death.
Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Arson of State buildings or places of mass gatherings, religious sites, or public transportation vehicles is punishable by death. Reports indicate that airplane hijacking is also a capital offense under the 1978 Royal Act on Certain Offences Related to Air Travel, which we were not able to locate during our research.
Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Raping a woman or girl under the age of 15 with a gun or explosives, or with the intent to murder, is punishable by death if it results in serious injury.
Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Committing arson or preparing to do so by setting fire to a building or vessel used as a human dwelling, a building or vessel used for storage or manufacture of goods, public places such as a house of entertainment, a meeting place, a State building, a place for performing religious ceremonies, a railway station, airport, or public parking, or a boat, airplane or train used for public transportation, are punishable by death.
Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Kidnapping for ransom and causing grievous bodily harm or any physical or mental injury by torture to the kidnapped person is punishable by death. Being an accomplice to this offense is also punishable by death.

In addition, the Narcotics Act, which makes forcibly drugging a woman or person lacking legal competence a capital offense, likely affects whether certain kidnapping offenses in Thailand are punishable by death.
Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
The death penalty can be imposed for manufacturing, importing or exporting category 1 or “dangerous” narcotics for commercial purposes.
Drug Possession.
Possession of more than 20 grams of category 1 or “dangerous” narcotics is a capital offense. The use of deception, coercion, intimidation, physical threat, or dark influence to force any woman or person lacking legal competence to take narcotics is also a capital offense.
Economic Crimes Not Resulting in Death.
The death penalty may be imposed on a government official or a democratic representative, a judicial official or a prosecutor for demanding or accepting a bribe. In July 2015, an amendment to the Anti-Corruption Act expanded the death penalty to foreign officials and staff of international organizations who demand or accept a bribe.
The following treasonous offenses are punishable by death: endangering the life of the King or committing a deadly or violent action against the royal family; causing or attempting to cause the death of the head of a friendly foreign state or an accredited foreign representative; committing or threatening to commit an act of violence to overthrow the constitution or seize power; acting with the intent to cause the country to fall under the sovereignty of a foreign State or to deteriorate the independence of the State; a Thai citizen taking up arms against Thailand or assisting an enemy; and committing any act with the intent to cause danger to the external security of the State, if such danger occurs.

A number of treason and espionage offenses are also reportedly punishable by death under the Military Criminal Code.
Espionage to aid an enemy in preparation for battle or during wartime is a capital offense. Reports indicate that the Military Criminal Code also imposes the death penalty for espionage.
Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
A number of capital treason offenses laid out in the Criminal Code are relevant to the military, including instigating neglect of duty by a member of the armed forces, committing mutiny, deserting, committing a breach of discipline, and bearing arms against the country.

We were unable to locate the Military Criminal Code during our research, but reports indicate that it also imposes the death penalty for the following offences: dodging the draft, deserting or deserting one’s duty in the face of the enemy; surrendering against orders or more generally committing acts of insubordination in the face of the enemy; initiating or organizing a conspiracy or armed rebellion through armed threats, armed assault, or by creating public unrest; assaulting a commanding officer in the face of the enemy; and abandoning or destroying military property, equipment or supplies in face of the enemy. A number of treason and espionage offenses are also punishable by death under the Military Criminal Code. Any offence committed by a released prisoner of war returning to active combat duty is also punishable by death.
Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Offenses against women and minors: Procuring, recruiting, luring, enticing or coercing a child under the age of 15 to gratify the sexual desire of another person; or using deception, coercion, intimidation, physical threat, or dark influence to force any woman or person lacking legal competence to take narcotics are punishable by death.

- Use of firearms or explosives: The illegal use of firearms or explosives is a capital offense under the Firearms and Accessories, Explosives, Fireworks, and Other Equivalence Act, which we were not able to consult first-hand.

- Attempts: Certain attempted offenses may be punished like the offense itself: attempting to cause the death of a member of the royal family, the head of a foreign friendly state or an accredited foreign representative, and attempted murder of a member of the royal family or a friendly foreign head of state are punishable by death.
As of September 2014, the National Legislative Assembly set up under military rule was considering a bill creating a new terrorism-related capital offense for destroying or damaging an aircraft, or committing an act in an airport which causes death or forces the closure of an airport.

(The 63 capital crimes are listed in a Thai language document distributed by the Ministry of Justice. The convenient format used here is from where references to articles of the criminal code are included)

In a Human Rights Council notice addressed to Thailand:
“ Death penalty. While welcoming the de facto moratorium on executions, the Committee reiterates its concern that domestic law punishes with the death penalty crimes relating to corruption, bribery and drugs, which do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” within the meaning of article 6 (2) of the Covenant. The Committee is also concerned about the large number of cases in which the death penalty has been imposed (arts. 6-7). The State party should consider abolishing the death penalty and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. If the death penalty is maintained, the State should take all measures necessary, including legislative action, to ensure that it is limited to the most serious crimes, such as acts carried out with the intention of killing.” UN document CCPR/C/THA/CO/25 April 2017


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Execution of Aum Shinrikyo members

There are many who believe that if ever the death penalty is justified it is so in the case of the Aum Shinrikyo cult members who killed 19 people and injured thousands in a sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo underground railway. The Aum cult was based on the belief that the end of the world was coming, and that those outside the cult would go to hell, unless killed by cult members.
The executions pose a challenge both to those who wish to abolish the death penalty and to those who support it. The supporters are vehement in their belief, as shown by the almost unanimity of those commenting on news reports of the atrocity. To them it is evident that for such a crime the perpetrators must die, and that all terrorists should be executed. The highly emotional aspect of the demand appears to be a belief in retribution, an eye for an eye, a life for a life, a principle that is deeply embedded in the human psyche. The evolutionary origin of this powerful belief certainly derives from a human history which had to evolve through aeons when revenge was the only available response to individual or group injury. Such a response has only been replaced with the development of state retributive justice, where the state and its organs of justice have taken on the responsibility of responding to injustice. The state has at its disposal other punishments than the talion of an eye for an eye. But the rage for vengeance lingers on. The other justification for execution is the certainty that the perpetrators will not repeat their crime. An argument for deterrence is hardly relevant against attacks by fanatical assailants, who in modern days are willing to make suicide attacks.
What is the response of abolitionists to such awful crimes? Their response is informed by the historical development of the conviction that human life is inviolable, most strongly expressed in that symphony of humanity "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights", created from the experience of the two most savage wars experienced by the human race: "Everyone has the right to life..". This right was cruelly violated by Aum Shinrikyo, but also by those who have executed them. To kill the killers is to share their rejection of the unique value of life, and no satisfaction from revenge can justify the rejection. This realisation of the value of human life has developed throughout the same long history as our sense of justice. The two should never conflict. However, a hunger for justice can hardly compete with the rage of vengeance.

Two comments are offered:
a) A consistent respect for human life in all respects will instill in future generations a respect which will counteract a growing lethal violence in many countries which we can neither understand nor control.
b) There is a strange resonance in the use of sarin gas in the outrageous attacks of Aum Shinrikyo, invented by Nazis, who eliminated six million people in gas chambers during their time in power. In the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders we heard the justification of following a myth of racial superiority and racial purity. Ten of their leaders were found guilty and executed by hanging on 16th October 1946
But the germ of Nazism lives on, in the protection of racial purity to justify closure of national boundaries against the human flood of those escaping from intolerable poverty, disaster, or persecution. Would it not have been wiser to keep in confinement those who had acted on the myth of racial superiority, to demonstrate the value of life which they rejected, to face them with the falsehood of their beliefs, to convince them of their error, and to testify against the Nazism which continues to recur throughout the world. Similar lessons would be available from imprisoned fanatics, to understand and counter the authors of terrorism who again afflict our world, and against whom we lack the understanding and the ability to counteract.

In fine, there is a further resonance between the defects commented on in the Nuremberg trials and the trials in Tokyo. The laws applied in Nuremberg were created by the trial itself. The execution was by hanging using the method of short drop which effects a painful death by strangulation In Tokyo the belief of cult members that they were saving their victims from hell in a world that was ending, reveals mental states, that are mad or verge on madness. The executions that followed over twenty years later ignored the mental transformation of several of the convicted, and their apologies to relatives of the victims. They were no longer led by the fanaticism for which they were being punished. Besides, the impossibility of repeating the crime from the confines of a high security prison, matches the secure barrier of death itself.


Shoko Asahara, leader of Aum Shinrikyo, levitates

Haruki Murakami, the prominent Japanese novelist has written a remarkable set of interviews with survivors of the Tokyo sarin attacks, ("Underground", Vintage Books, 2001). The interviewees describe the horrors of the attack against innocent passengers, making the most powerful appeal for the death penalty against the perpetrators. One cannot counter the conviction of those who suffered so much. Neither is it possible to ultimately understand the motivation of those who carried out the attack, also reported by Murakami in interviews with members of Aum Shinrikyo. The motives of the accused presented during their trial were the overwhelming dominance on their lives of Shoko Asahara, an exact repeat of the defence of the accused in Nurenberg, who referred to their subjection to Adolf Hitler. One can only allow them the grace of the French saying, "Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner". But there remains the motivation and guilt of Shoko Asahara, as unanswerable as evil itself, a problem which the world's psychologies, philosophies and religions have failed to solve.
Haruki Murakami has written the most profound reflection on the death sentences against Aum Shinrikyo which it is hoped we can obtain permission to print on this site. Meanwhile, his article is available at, and is I believe the nearest one can come to maintaining an opposition to the death penalty in response to the sentences of death handed down by Tokyo courts. Just as the flawed Nuremberg trials led to a development of international law dealing with major atrocities, one may hope for a reflection on the Tokyo trials which will give us greater understanding of the ultimate punishment we call Capital.