Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Scandal of Shackling

The permanent shackling of prisoners in Thai jails who are condemned to death remains a serious scandal. The comment of the UN Human Rights Committee on this issue was especially forceful; “The use of shackling and long periods of solitary confinement should be stopped immediately”. UCL has followed the issue of one prisoner with particular interest. The prisoner submitted a complaint to the Administrative Court that his being shackled was against Thai law, prison regulations, and International Law. The Court responded by ordering that the shackles of this prisoner be removed while they considered the case. However, after the shackles were removed the prisoner, who was being held in Klong Prem prison, was transferred to Bang Kwang prison where he was again shackled. When the prisoner protested at such an infringement of a court order, the authorities replied that they knew nothing of such an order. Finally, on 16th September 2009, in a long and closely reasoned judgment, the Court handed down the decision that the shackles be removed. The prison was given 30 days to comply with the order. Two months later the prisoner remains shackled. The prisoner was informed verbally that the Correction’s Department was appealing the Court order. Details of the appeal are not available to the prisoner or to anyone else. The judgment applies only to the prisoner who lodged the appeal. Other prisoners must undertake a similar lengthy legal process to win relief.
Like most shackled prisoners, the above prisoner suffers from lesions caused by the chains, as shown in the accompanying photograph.
Meanwhile we are investigating reports that a prisoner remanded for deportation in the Bangkok Remand Prison has died on the 1st August 2009 from an infection caused by shackles. Fellow prisoners are prepared to testify but as the body has most likely been cremated, it is unlikely that adequate proof can be obtained.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

There is no humane way to execute

Following a news item posted below concerning a failed execution in Ohio, USA:
Ohio plans execution method untried on prisoners
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio announced plans to switch from the usual three-drug cocktail used to execute inmates to a one-drug method which has never been tried on prisoners.
Under the three-drug method, the first drug makes the prisoner unconscious, the second paralyzes him and the third stops his heart — a process that death penalty opponents argue is excruciatingly painful if the first drug doesn't work.
The single-drug technique amounts to an overdose of anesthesia.
Death penalty opponents hailed the decision as making executions more humane but expressed reservations about using such an untested method. The same drug is commonly used to euthanize pets and in some parts of Europe has been used in assisted suicides.
Richard Dieter, director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, noted the new practice would essentially be an experiment performed on inmates.
"They're human subjects and they're not willingly part of this," Dieter said. "This is experimenting with the unknown, and that always raises concerns."
The inmates who are going to be executed could challenge the constitutionality of what's being proposed in Ohio.

The lesson for Thailand is that there is no humane way to kill people