Saturday, May 13, 2006

Death Penalty Thailand: Call for Abolition

Nation, 13th May 2006

Time is ripe to abolish capital punishment in the Kingdom

This is a celebratory year for Thailand, and it would be a momentous achievement to crown the across-the-board progress we've achieved over the past 60 years if we were to renounce capital punishment. I realise many people, perhaps even the majority, would initially object, fearing the worst.

It is not surprising that Europe has taken the lead in banning capital punishment, the culmination of centuries of struggle for justice and equality that began with religious toleration and the Enlightenment and has led to present humane views.

But it wasn't that long ago that hundreds of crimes in England - even what are now petty ones, like stealing a loaf of bread - were capital offences. As protests were raised against this injustice, the idea of capital punishment meted out for many crimes became repellent. In a relatively brief period, Europe has reduced to zero the number of capital offences.

Thailand's experience has not been the same, of course. But we have succeeded in reducing capital punishment to only a few offences; I feel we can telescope the rest of the European experience without further delay and arrive at the same consensus.

As Buddhists from all around the world gather in Bangkok, it would be fitting if a voice among them were raised in support of this idea of compassion and reverence for life, which, after all, their founder espoused thousands of years ago.

Trirat Petchsingh


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