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Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Thailand: Resuming Death Penalty a Major Setback

Prison officials demonstrate the use of the death penalty by lethal injection. (Photo: Bangkok Post)
Government Executes a Prisoner After 9-Year Moratorium

The Thai government should halt further executions and publicly resume its de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said today. Thai authorities executed a 26-year-old man by lethal injection on June 18, 2018, the country's 1st execution since August 2009.

"Thailand's resumed use of the death penalty marks a major setback for human rights," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The Thai government's many pledges about moving toward abolishing the death penalty clearly meant nothing."

The Corrections Department stated that the execution of Theerasak Longji, who was found guilty of aggravated murder 6 years ago, reflected Thailand's standpoint that "focuses on protecting society, rather than the rights and freedoms of wrongdoers," and sends a warning message that serious crimes will be severely punished. The decision reverses a de facto moratorium on executions that Thailand had adopted over the past 9 years and incorporated into the national action plan on human rights.

Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all countries and in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty.

According to the Corrections Department, as of April, there were 517 prisoners (415 men and 102 women) on death row in Thailand. Most were convicted of drug-related offenses. The fate of many of these people, who have sought commutation of their sentences, is now at risk.

The United Nations General Assembly has continually called on countries to establish a moratorium on the death penalty, progressively restrict the practice, and reduce the offenses for which it might be imposed - all with the view toward its eventual abolition. In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN expert on unlawful killings have specifically condemned the use of the death penalty in drug cases.

"The ineffectiveness of the death penalty in combating crime is evident the world over, and this cruel practice has no place in modern society," Adams said. "Thailand should immediately stop all executions and abolish the death penalty once and for all."

Source: Human Rights Watch, June 22, 2018


Polls point to strong backing among Thais for death penalty


Social media
Capital punishment, despite growing opposition among international organisations and other countries, is strongly supported by the majority of Thai people, according to surveys.

At least 4 online polls were conducted immediately after Thailand's 1st execution in 9 years took place on Monday. In every one, the majority of respondents agreed with the death penalty.

The findings came after a convicted murderer, identified only as Thirasak by the Corrections Department, was killed by lethal injection at Bangkwang Central Prison, bringing an end to a nine-year hiatus for executions in Thailand. He was convicted of fatally stabbing his 17-year-old victim 24 times in 2012 and making away with his cellphone and a small amount of cash.

About 2,300 people voted on Kom Chad Luek's website in response to the question, "Do you agree with execution?" An overwhelming 92 % said "Yes" while just 8 % said "No".

Nation TV conducted a similar survey at www.nationtv.tv, garnering more than 20,000 votes. Of them, 95 % said the death penalty should continue to apply on Thai soil.

A popular Facebook page, Drama-addict, asked whether Thailand should put to death those convicted of extremely grave crimes. More than 124,900 people have responded so far, with 96 % or 119,900 of them in no doubt that capital punishment should be meted out to the worst criminals. The poll is open to voters for 5 more days.

Thirasak's mother yesterday said her son may have been wrongfully convicted, as he had always maintained that he had not committed the murder.

"That's why he always refused to plead guilty in court, even though [he knew] doing so would provide grounds for leniency," she said.

Among those protesting Thailand's resumption of executions was Germany's Commissioner for Human Rights, Barbel Kofler. "It is impossible to entirely rule out the possibility of wrongful convictions - with irreparable consequences if the defendant has been executed," she pointed out, adding that the death penalty was an inhumane form of punishment.

The European Union, meanwhile, said it was opposed to capital punishment under all circumstances.

"The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity," the EU said.

That sentiment apparently has little support in Thailand, where threat of execution is often held up as an effective deterrent against committing serious crimes.

More than 86,000 people responding to a poll at Kapook's Facebook page said they believed the death penalty reduced crimes. Only 1,451 respondents thought otherwise.

Maynart Nantakwang, whose popular author-mother was stabbed to death in a robbery, responded to the aftermath of Monday's execution by lamenting that so many people were so keen to defend the rights of cold-blooded murderers.

"If laws were more lenient, there would be more innocent victims," she commented.

Source: nationalmultimedia.com, June 23, 2018


'Thailand's resumed use of the death penalty marks a major setback for human rights'


Thailand police officers
A 26-year-old Thai man has been executed by lethal injection, making it the 1st case of capital punishment in the country since 2009. Despite the decision being slammed by international human rights groups, polls have suggested a majority of Thais support the death penalty.

Theerasak Longji was charged with aggravated murder 6 years ago and despite repeatedly claiming innocence, was put to death on 18 June. It is the 1st time in 9 years that a prisoner has been executed in Thailand, breaking a de facto moratorium on capital punishment that had been incorporated into the national action plan on human rights.

"Thailand's resumed use of the death penalty marks a major setback for human rights," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The Thai government's many pledges about moving toward abolishing the death penalty clearly meant nothing."

Thailand's Corrections Department stated that the country was focused on "protecting society, rather than the rights and freedoms of wrongdoers," and this stance has been backed up by public opinion.

A series of online polls were conducted in the immediate aftermath of the execution, and in most it was shown that a large majority of Thai citizens agreed with capital punishment as a form of justice.

In one, conducted by a popular Facebook page called Drama-addict, 96% of nearly 125,000 people stated that they were in favour of Thailand continuing to execute the worst criminals, the Nation reported.

Longji was convicted of stabbing a 17-year-old 24 times before running off with the victim's mobile phone and some money. However, Longji's mother has said that her son may have been unjustly charged.

"That's why he always refused to plead guilty in court, even though [he knew] doing so would provide grounds for leniency," she told the Nation.

As of April of this year there were 517 prisoners, of which 102 were women, on death row in Thailand, according to the Corrections Department. In a statement, Human Rights Watch decried this form of punishment, citing its "inherent cruelty".

"The ineffectiveness of the death penalty in combating crime is evident the world over, and this cruel practice has no place in modern society," Adams said. "Thailand should immediately stop all executions and abolish the death penalty once and for all."

Source: Southeast Asia Globe, June 23, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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