Saturday, October 19, 2013

Letter on Abolition to Miinister of Justice from World Coalition and FIDH

H.E. Chaikasem Nitisiri, Minister of Justice
22nd Floor Software Park Building
         Chaeng Wattana Road
         Pakkred, Nonthaburi 11120, Thailand

Paris, 8 October 2013
 Dear Minister of Justice,

On the eve of the 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (World Coalition) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) write to you to urge the Government of Thailand to take immediate steps to abolish the death penalty, an irrevocable, inhuman, cruel and degrading punishment that does not make society safer.

The World Coalition and FIDH also welcome the organization of the expert seminar on moving away from the death penalty in South East Asia by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Thailand which will take place in Bangkok on 22-23 October 2013.

Thailand is one of the 58 retentionist countries which still carry out the death penalty. The last execution took place in August 2009 when two convicted drug traffickers were executed by lethal injection.
In August 2012, Thailand abolished the death penalty for offenders under 18 years of age and reduced life imprisonment for minors to 50 years. On 16 August 2012, a royal pardon was announced whereby all prisoners who have been sentenced to death and whose cases have reached a final verdict would have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment. In December 2010 and 2012, Thailand abstained during the UNGA vote on a resolution for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. It had previously voted against it in 2007 and 2008.

The World Coalition and FIDH hope that these positive steps indicate a growing political will on the part of the Government of Thailand to move progressively and expeditiously towards abolition.

We are concerned, however, that Thai courts continue to hand down new death sentences every year, including for drug-related offenses, in contravention to the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee in 2005. Thailand is a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which requires States that still retain the death penalty to restrict its use to only the “most serious crimes”, which drug-related offenses are not.

We further regret that Thailand did not accept the ten recommendations on abolition or moratorium it received from UN Member States at the Universal Periodic Review in October 2011, and urge Thailand to reconsider its position on these important recommendations.

The global trend towards abolition is strong and unmistakable. Two of Thailand’s fellow ASEAN Member States, Cambodia and the Philippines, have abolished the death penalty while no executions have been reported in Burma and Laos in the last decade. According to the United Nations, approximately 150 countries have abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium, either in law or in practice. Many countries have abolished the death penalty when public opinion was still in favour of it, and this demonstrates that political courage is needed to steer societies towards a more compassionate and less violent future, and to ensure the full respect for the right to life, as guaranteed by the ICCPR.

Thailand’s second National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2013) includes the review of laws which permit capital punishment and the replacement of capital punishment with life imprisonment as indicators of success. The Human Rights Plan will be renewed this year and the World Coalition and FIDH encourage Thailand to make abolition of the death penalty one of the key recommendations for the third Human Rights Plan.

Thank you for your serious consideration of our recommendations and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,
WCADP President

Karim Lahidji
FIDH President  

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