Thailand’s Union for Civil Liberty is calling for the abolition of capital punishment in the kingdom following a rise in the number of criminals condemned to death in the Deep South.
The union held a seminar on Monday at the foundation of the Islamic Center, where experts discussed the situation in the southern region and confirmed the global trend of moving away from the death penalty.
Human rights activist and union member Dr. Danthong Breen spoke extensively on the security of legal cases in the restive region where the emergency decree and the Internal Security Act have long been enforced. Unlike most parts of Thailand, where traditional criminal law is in effect, the invocation of the special marshal laws in the Deep South deeply affects the judicial process, including the absence of rights to obtain a lawyer during interrogation and apprehending suspects without warrants, said Dr. Danthong.
Handing down a death sentence generally requires the highest possible security, he said, adding that when certain rights of defendants in the South are taken away, the security of cases and the standard of proof can easily be compromised.
In addition, experts said during the last World Congress on Abolition of Death Penalty in Madrid that capital punishment in a region rife with insurgent activities may be counter-productive, as making martyrs out of terrorists can help recruit many others to the cause. Once executed, they become heroes in the minds of their followers.
The Department of Corrections’ death penalty statistics indicate that at least 112 people are awaiting death row in Thailand as of late last year. However, no execution has been carried out in Thailand during the recent years as inmates are appealing for royal pardon from His Majesty the King, which is considered the last step of their appeal process.
Strong political leadership is needed to end capital punishment in Thailand. Studies suggest the practice is not only inhumane and unnecessary but also does not serve as a deterrent to crime. No legal system is flawless, which means any miscarriage of justice could lead to the tragic loss of an innocent life, Dr. Danthong concluded.
In Asia, China, Vietnam, Singapore as well as Thailand are strong enforcers of the death penalty. According to reports, two thirds of the world have already abolished capital punishment in their countries.