Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thailanad's 3rd National Human Rights Plan: 2014 to 2018

Relating to Death Penalty
Submission to parliamentary discussion that the death penalty be replaced by life imprisonment to achieve legal conformity of state law relating to human rights with international human rights standards, in the following steps:
1.1   Make known the relevant principles of human rights to those involved in the process of justice, and to the people, especially relating to human freedom and the right to life the basis of all other rights.
1.2   To attempt the immediate establishment of an official moratorium on the death penalty and thereby support the moratorium proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, with the aim of changing the death penalty by the end of year 2014.
1.3   Submit that changes be made, by 2017, to the criminal law code reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty, especially in eliminating crimes which do not rate as “most serious  crimes” referred to in Article 6 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, for example the crime of arson (currently Thai law makes liable to the death penalty 55 crimes)
1.4   Sign, with a commitment to ratification, the second optional protocol of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, with the prospect of eliminating the death penalty by 2018
1.5   Construct high security prisons  to accommodate prisoners guilty of serious crimes

      Well and good, there is advance on the policy outlined in the earlier Human Rights Plans. But ten years have already passed since abolition was first officially mooted. There is little hope of the policy proposed being accepted by our military controlled government which has no understanding of human rights principles and whose very existence is antithetical to human rights.
      Moreover, the sting is in the final proposal, 1.5. What is the nature of 'life imprisonment' being proposed? 1.5 indicates that life imprisonment until death is intended. Such a sentence is counter to every consideration of imprisonment from a human rights perspective, and has been dubbed the "other death penalty". Uniquely in the US is Life Imprisonment Without Parole (LWOP) imposed. The aim of imprisonment is primarily rehabilitation of the condemned. Abandonment of this hope renders imprisonment as cruel and inhumane as the death penalty itself, and arguably even worse. It is a meaningless and unjustifiable punitive sentence. In Thailand it is particularly objectionable. Our prison system is among the most overcrowded in the world; for women it is the most overcrowded. The ensuing conditions of imprisonment are completely unacceptable. Either the number of prisoners must be, at least, halved, or any budget available be devoted to making present prisons conform to UN  standards. If budget is allotted to building high security prisons, the situation in our existing prisons will deteriorate to an impossible degree. One can predict too that, as has happened in the US, more and more prisoners will be dispatched to high security prisons. The existence of more severe prison conditions will call for their use for even minor crimes in vindictive campaigns for increased deterrence which is never realised.

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