Sunday, March 04, 2018

Duterte kills again

It is announced that Duterte of the Philippines has restarted a campaign of extrajudicial killings of those suspected of involvement in drugs
                                                              The Nation 4/3/2018
Most relevant to Duterte's  policy of judicial  executions is the following extract from the declaration on the 20th anniversary of the Asian Human Rights Charter by the Asian Human Rights Commission.
See especially:
 "Extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances are constantly carried out in many countries in Asia. Such extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances are grave crimes and cannot be allowed for any reason. In any state in which extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances take place, the state must accept liability for such crimes and ensure immediate action be taken to investigate. On the basis of such investigations conducted by credible agencies, the culprits should be prosecuted immediately. In deciding on culprits, the issue of command responsibility should be pursued strictly. Every officer who bears direct or indirect responsibility for such grave crimes should be brought before the courts as soon as possible.

The absence of specific domestic laws relating to extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances should not be used as an excuse to stop the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. Where no proper laws exist, the laws must be made and enforced with retrospective effect. Where such laws do not exist, they should be treated as though they do, on the basis that such acts are crimes against humanity. Where extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances occur on a large scale, the state should bear the full liability for such crimes. These crimes likewise amount to crimes against humanity."

A Paper by the Asian Human Rights Commission
WORLD: Draft Asian Declaration on right to justice - right to an effective remedy for violations of human rights in terms of Article 2 of the ICCPR: March 5, 2018


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Current Statistics on Death Penalty in Thailand

Male Female Total % of women prisoners
286945 43829 330774 13%
6th highest in world after US, China, Brazil, Russia, India all having populations several times greater than Thailand. The number of women prisoners, relative to the population, is highest in the world.
1. Statistics of total prison population in 2018

Gender On drug charge General crime On security charges Total
Male 192 219 3 414
Female 79 9 0 88
or 17.5%
Total 271 228 3 502
2. Statistics of prisoners sentenced to death in 2018

Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Total 857 708 759 649 706 609 437 454 482 502
Drug related 390 339 353 308 314 252 183 213 215 271
3. Variation in death sentences over ten year period

Department of Corrections Department, 1st February 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Statement by Leila de Lima


Sen. Leila M. de Lima

15 Jan. 2018

Extrajudicial killings and Death Penalty: Most Deadly Combination
The death penalty violates the right to life and has often been abused by authoritarian governments and despots to subjugate and terrorize their constituents. Studies have also revealed that state-sanctioned killings mostly victimize the poor and powerless, and thus can never serve genuine justice, not anywhere in the world.
In the Philippines, the Duterte administration is still bent on re-imposing the death penalty, more than a decade after advocates succeeded in lobbying Congress to abolish this law. It’s as if extrajudicial killings resulting from the war on drugs, itself a form of, and even worse than, death penalty, are not enough.

Extrajudicial killings combined with the resurrection of the death penalty will further cheapen life in the Philippines with the poor and marginalized as the major casualties. The previous imposition of the death penalty in the country has shown that most of those meted death sentences were those who could not afford quality legal representation. Same with this administration’s war on drugs where most victims are lowly users and small-time pushers slaughtered in slum communities.
As if the more than 13,000 drug-related deaths are not enough, this regime wants to kill more, still from the lowest rungs of Philippine society through our defective judicial system that favors the rich and powerful such as Enrile, Arroyo, Napoles, Estrada, the Marcoses and, most recently, former Governor Joel Reyes of Palawan. And while this regime has been targeting the poor, it has abetted the exoneration of these influential suspects charged with extraordinary and heinous crimes.
What this aspiring dictator is doing has trampled on people’s basic rights amid a state of impunity, discrimination and senseless violence. The EJKs and the threat of the death penalty are obviously meant to intimidate and sow fear among Filipinos while those in power plunder the nation. But we will not be silenced, the fight will continue!
Death Penalty Thailand is grateful to Senator Leila de Lima for providing us this statement on one of Asia's major abuses of the right to life. Leila de Lima has now been imprisoned in solitary confinement for one year. A protest has been made by FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights:
 “Senator de Lima’s arbitrary detention is aimed at silencing her and intimidating other lawmakers and government critics from speaking out against the brutal killings that have been carried out as part of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’ She should be immediately released and all charges against her dropped,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Philippnes again takes up restoration of death penalty

We have here a strange announcement, only in an oblique manner, that hearings on restoration of the death penalty in the Philippines are again on the agenda. It is strange too that the hearings are under the direction of Senator Manny Pacquiao, retired boxer, who famously visited Mary Jane Veloso, the Philippina condemned to death in Indonesia, to give her support and comfort. Now it appears that the Senator supports the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is celebrating its most popular annual religious festival, reenacting the execution of Jesus, an event that traumatized early Christians to the extent that the death penalty was an abomination for them, as many of their coreligionists died in state persecutions. However, modern day Filipinos appear unaware of the contradiction in supporting executions while recalling the execution of their Founder.
Forgotten too it seems is the trauma of seeing the poor and disadvantaged shot down in the street in so called non-judicial killings, again abhorrent to the religion they profess.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Summary Execution and Assassination Constitute a De Facto Death Penalty

Death Penalty Thailand responds to an appeal of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) to protest summary executions and assassinations. We have experienced such killings in Thailand and in our neighbour states.

Extra-Judicial  Executions Never Stopped: New Attempts Before Israeli Knesset to Legitimize Killing of Palestinians

The Israeli Knesset intends to vote on Wednesday, 03 January 2018, to amend the Penal Code in order to legalize the use of death penalty against those involved in murders while carrying out "terrorist operations”. The bill was presented before the Knesset on 30 October 2017 by three Israeli extremist parliamentarians: Robert Eltov, Oded Forer and Yuli Leminovsky.

The bill stipulates that "the Minister of Defense orders the commander of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the division to give orders to: 1- the Military Court in the division to have the power to sentence death penalty without requiring the consensus of the Military Court, but only the ordinary majority; 2- No other court in the division has the right to commute a final death sentence issued by the military court in the division.” 

The explanation for the amendment says, “Releasing terrorists following a period of their imprisonment (in reference to prisoner exchange deals with the Palestinian armed groups) due to carrying out terrible operations sends a reverse message that does not contribute to fighting terrorism and strengthening the Israeli deterrence capability. The bill aims at creating a meaningful deterrence and showing Israel is tightening up its policies and no longer tolerates such crimes.”

PCHR emphasizes that such repeated bills are an attempt to legitimize a current status, which is the policy of assassinations and extra-judicial executions carried out according to direct orders directly from  the highest decision makers in the Israeli forces against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). PCHR has followed many statements which stressed use of assassinations and lethal force when dealing with any danger threats the Israeli soldiers. PCHR and media also documented scenes of extra-judicial executions and assassinations, which undoubtedly confirm the existence of an extra-judicial executions policy practiced by the Israeli forces.

While following up the bill which legitimizes the Israeli killing, the Palestinian memory recalls the killing scene of young man Ibrahim Abu Thurayah, who was killed twice by the Israeli forces. The first time when the Israeli bombing caused the amputation of his legs during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2008 while the second was when he was shot dead by the Israeli snipers to the head during his participation in a protest near the border fence in December 2017.

The cruel scenes of dozens of cold-blooded killings by Israeli soldiers continue to haunt the Palestinian memory, such as the scene of the Israeli soldier Eleazar Azariah, who in cold blood killed the Palestinian civilian Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif in March 2016. Abed al-Fattah was directly hit with a live bullet to the head while lying on the ground motionless.

It should be noted that the policy of assassinations and extra-judicial executions are adopted by the Israeli forces as PCHR has monitored the implementation of hundreds of assassinations that claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinian civilians. Moreover, PCHR monitored dozens of extra-judicial executions since 2014, most of them were killed without posing any real threat to the Israeli soldiers, and some were killed on mere suspicion.

It is noteworthy that tabling the bill was one of the election promises by the Israeli War Minister, Knesset Member and Leader of the extremist “Yisrael Beiteinu” Party, Avigdor Lieberman. According to the Israeli media, this racist law is supported by a number of extremist ministers in the Israeli government: Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Agriculture Uri Yehuda Ariel, Minister of Culture Miri Regev, Minister of Science Danny Danon and Minister of Immigration Ze'ev Elkin.The above-mentioned facts reveal two things; First, Israel never stopped using death penalty but extra-judicially through summary executions and what Israel is now trying to do is to legitimize such crime. It should be noted that the idea of codifying crimes is an Israeli systematic policy.  This idea is used by Israel legitimize the settlement activities, house demolitions, and confiscation of civilians’ properties.  All of these practices are war crimes but legalized by Israel against Palestinians according to applicable laws and upheld by Judicial rulings. Second, this attempt confirms that Israel is an apartheid state ruled by racists. Moreover, the submitted bill, which is supported by the government ministers, has worked on applying death penalty on Palestinians only and not Israelis, even if this was not mentioned in text, it is seen on the ground as this amendment shall be applied within the military courts in the oPt. This scene recalls the laws of the apartheid state in South Africa.

A similar bill was previously rejected by the Israeli Knesset in 2015. At that time, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who recommended his Party Members in the Knesset not to vote for the bill, which only received 6 votes, commented that the bill needed an amendment and prolonged discussions.  He added then that he and his extremist (Likud) party accepted the bill in principle and the disagreement was only about details.

It should be noted that the death penalty is codified in the Israeli military laws and decisions, but is optional and not mandatory for the judge. Following  the occupation of the oPt in 1967, the Israeli authorities issued 2 decisions (268 and 159) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 and 1968 respectively. According to the decisions, the death penalty becomes optional and not mandatory for the judge. Therefore, death penalty can be replaced  by life imprisonment or hard labor for life.

The Israeli judiciary has applied life imprisonment instead of death penalty, constituting a stable precedent over the past decades. Those who presented this bill are attempting to cancel this precedent, bring the death penalty to life, and facilitate sentencing it without requiring the consensus of the judicial body to issue the death sentence.

It should be noted that the death penalty was officially applied once upon a decision by an Israeli court in 1962 against Adolf Eichmann, a senior officer in the Nazi German Army during World War II.

PCHR raises the alarm about the legitimization of the Israeli killing because it paves the way towards committing more murders and  will be used as a display justified in the name of strengthening  “deterrence” as called by the bill. PCHR confirms that the suggested amendment violates Israel’s obligations under Article (6) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which sets conditions to apply the death penalty not available in the Israeli military courts such as: the fair trial conditions, to be presented before natural judge and the endorsement of the death penalty by the consensus of the judicial body and not only by majority (as suggested by the amendment submitted to the Knesset.)

Thus, PCHR calls upon the UN and High Contracting Parties  and Signatory Parties to the human rights conventions, particularly the ICCPR, to ensure that Israel respects human rights in the oPt and ends its interference and racist actions against Palestinians.

PCHR also calls upon the European Union (EU) to take serious steps to prevent enacting such law based on Israel’s obligations under the  Israel-EU Association Agreement.

Moreover, PCHR calls upon all anti-death penalty groups and organizations to work to prevent enacting such law and emerge summary execution and assassination crimes into its focus circle for constituting a de facto acknowledgment of death penalty that is way dangerous than the legal acknowledgment as it grants an  absolute power to the soldiers to issue and apply the death sentence.

Monday, January 01, 2018

2018: Salute to Philippine's Leila De Lima

While aware that there are those who believe that the campaign for abolition of the death penalty should be confined to the strict category of those condemned to judicial killing, it is the belief of Death Penalty Thailand that extrajudicial killings are to be considered as an extreme form of judicial killing. In the Philippines, President Duterte would certainly welcome a restored death penalty, and has already spoken of ten executions a day. Blocked by opposition to a restoration of the death penalty, illegal by international treaty law, he has resorted to extra judicial killings. It is our hope that in the new year he will enjoy all the benefits of legal defence when impeached for his crimes.

We salute Leila De Lima in her brave struggle and carry this report on her continued action;
From her detention quarters in Camp Crame, De Lima said 2017 was an extraordinary year, claiming she was detained on “trumped-up” illegal drug charges by the Duterte administration but at the same time gained international recognition for her fight for human rights.

“This year, I learned that being deprived of your physical liberty is never a hindrance to fight for what is right and just, but a reminder to continue living a life of purpose by promoting freedom and seeking justice, especially for the thousands killed in the war on drugs,” De Lima said.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

President Duterte and Senator Leila de Lima

As President Duterte twists and turns to restore his policy of extra-judicial killings, the death penalty by another name, his former opponent, in detention since February of this year on an unfounded charge of "aiding" drug lords, again proclaims opposition to his policies in a statement issued on
International Human Rights Day, 10th December 2017

Here in the Philippines, acting on instructions, instigations and incitements from no less than the President, the police and vigilantes have killed more than ten thousands of alleged drug offenders in a spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under the so-called war on drugs, which is actually a war against our people, especially the poor.

            In the face of these mass atrocities, governments and inter-government bodies appear to be either ineffective, inadequate or simply passive. In the Philippine situation, the International Criminal Court (ICC), through its prosecutor, has yet to decide whether there is basis to proceed to a preliminary examination of the cases. At the UN, we have yet to see concrete measures coming from the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, or the General Assembly, beyond what happened last September during the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippine human rights record with the joint statement of concern from 40 states led by Iceland, and similar language spoken by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Domestically, the President and his Foreign Affairs Secretary have been consistently blocking the proposal to invite the UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial killings to do a country visit. Worse, there are no serious investigations and prosecutions being done on the killings.

 Meanwhile, with the return of the police to the drug war, Duterte is boasting that there will be an increase in the body count.
            The killings must stop. But, how? We call on governments all over the world to make good their commitments to actualize the promise under Section 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms …can be fully realized”

            In the Philippine situation, in particular, we urge that:

a.    The General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning the extrajudicial killings, urging its immediate stoppage, and recommending the prompt and effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and masterminds;

b.    The Human Rights Council to establish an independent international commission of inquiry or an investigative commission to ferret out the truth and identify accountabilities for the mass murders;

c.    The International Criminal Court, through the Prosecutor, to commence the preliminary examination of the cases of EJKs; and

d.    The Philippine government to finally extend the invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on summary and extralegal executions.

More than the government actions, however, and in light also of the growing absence of human rights leadership in this highly troubled world, there is an urgency now for international solidarity and mobilization of public support to uphold, defend and protect human rights. We cannot remain silent and depend passively on governments. We the people ourselves have to act – act with urgency and in solidarity with each other. With political leaders themselves demonizing their own people, and even instigating the widespread attacks against them, the need for all of us to stand up for the basic values of human dignity and equality of everyone everywhere has now become extremely urgent. “

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thailand Death Penalty Statistics

            Thailand Death Penalty Statistics October 2017

Drug Crimes Other Crimes Total
Men 184 214 398
Women 74 10 84
Total 215 224 482

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Young of Europe Favour the Death Penalty

Green: Opposed to death penalty
Red: In favour of death penalty

The above image shows the percentages of those opposed and those in favour of the death penalty in 26 countries of the European Union, in three age groups and combined. While we in Thailand who  campaign for abolition of the death penalty in our country, often refer to what we thought of as the glorious example of Europe, the reality is rather different, especially in the younger age group. We forgot that the roots of the death penalty, like virulent weeds, live on. A continued attention to education is needed to stop the hidden growth of a return of this ancient curse, so easily accepted as a solution for crime, and so satisfying to the appeal of vengeance.
While the percentage of Europeans favouring the death penalty is 42%, the percentage in Belgium, one of the founding states of the Union, is 52%. Surprisingly, France, arena of the famous abolitionist Robert Badinter, with 49% of the population supporting the death penalty, is not far behind.
Further statistics and comparative data will be added later to this posting. Full results of the surveys published under the heading, "What Next for Democracy" are available on the website

                                EU Countries having a majority in favour of death penalty

% in favour of death penalty
Belgium 52
Croatia 54
Estonia 54
Slovakia 56
Poland 57
Latvia 59
Hungary 66
Lithuania 67
Bulgaria 68
Czech Republic 71

                          For all EU countries combined, those in favour of death penalty are 42%

 Belgium is an EU foundation member, the other countries were formerly members of the Soviet bloc

                                       Contrasting figures for France and Germany

In France percentages of 18 to 34 years old in favour and opposed to the death penalty are 50:50

In Germany for the same age range the percentages are 33:67

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Death Penalty Thailand Report

A summary of progress in “Advocacy against Death Penalty”

1. Academic information from international community about death penalty

(1) World Day Against the Death Penalty was first launched in 2013 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) and since then 10 October has been marked as World Day Against the Death Penalty.

(2) Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries in the World According to the 2016 report on executions and death penalty worldwide, more than two thirds of the countries in the world are abolitionist countries which have either abolish death penalty in law or in practice. As of 31 December 2016, (1) 104 countries have abolished death penalty for all crimes, (2) seven countries have abolished death penalty for ordinary crimes, and (3) 30 countries have been abolitionist in practice, altogether (1) to (3) 141 countries, save for 57 retentionists.

(3) Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries in ASEAN As to the number of ASEAN countries that are abolitionist and retentionist, it can be described as follows (1) countries that have abolished death penalty for all crimes including Cambodia and the Philippines, (2) countries that have abolished death penalty in practice including Brunei, Burma and Laos, and (3) countries that retain death penalty including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

(4) The use of death penalty and the number of death row inmates

Execution has been carried out through various means at times. During 1935-2003, the death penalty was implemented by shooting. The number of death row prisoners executed by shooting is altogether 319 including 316 males and three females.

On 18 September 2003, Thailand has changed execution method from firing squad to lethal Injection, the first of which was carried out on 18 September 2003 against four prisoners convicted on drug-related offences. The last execution in Thailand took place on 24 August 2009 against two prisoners convicted on drug-related offences. There are, therefore, six prisoners altogether who have been executed this way. From 1935 until present, 325 prisoners have been executed.

As to the current number of death row inmates, there are 447 of them, of which only 157 have been handed with the final verdicts already (68 on drug-related offences and 89 on ordinary crimes) as per the table below (source: Department of Corrections, April 2017)

Drug-related offences
Ordinary crimes
Appeals Court
Supreme Court
Final verdict prisoners
Appeals Court
Supreme Court
Final verdict prisoners
Male 105 12 55 110 6 85
Female 51 0 13 6 0 4
Total 156 12 68 116 6 89

It should be noted that the last execution in Thailand took place in August 2009 and since then there has been no other executions. And if Thailand can refrain from implementing the capital punishment in the next two years, it would make a decade free of execution as a result of which Thailand would be counted among the abolitionist countries in practice according to the Moratorium.

2. Previous implementation for the abolition of death penalty by the Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberties Protection Department can be summarized as follows;

2.1 Feasibility study on the abolition of death penalty according to the Second National Human Rights Action Plan with the following detail;

(1) Review information from within and outside the country: Domestically, there has been a review of all laws that inflict death penalty including the nature of the crime or gravity of the offences, statistics of cases that have reached final verdicts for death penalty and accumulative statistics of mandatory death penalty sentencing in Thailand ten years until now. Internationally, an attempt was made to explore information concerning countries that have made change to their capital punishment and the retentionist countries and measures and methods that countries have been using to replace death penalty as well as their consequences.

(2) Awareness raising and public consultation through workshops on “Is Death Penalty Still Necessary in Thailand?” covering all the four regions and Bangkok with 1,073 representatives from all sectors. It aims to raise the awareness on the advocacy to abolish death penalty and to gather inputs as to measures and methods that could be use in lieu of the capital punishment.

(3) Interview with knowledgeable persons/experts on human rights, laws and justice process / victims of crimes / persons who used to be sentenced to death and general public, 27 of them.

(4) Online public consultation through website of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department on “Public Consultation on Measures and Methods that Can be Used In lieu of Death Penalty” including 1,301 persons.

Table: “Should Thailand Abolish or Retain Death Penalty?”

Scale of opinion People receiving information People not receiving information
Before education
After education
Strongly agree with death penalty 46.9% 72.6% 41.1% 68.7% 73.1%
Relatively agree with death penalty 25.7% 27.3% 15%
Note sure 9.1% 9.1% 9.2% 9.2% 3%
Inclined to have death penalty abolished 10.2% 18.3% 14.3% 22.1% 5.1%
Strongly inclined to have death penalty abolished 9.1% 7.8% 4%

2.2 The inclusion of death penalty advocacy in the Third National Human Rights Action Plan (2014-2018) It aims to make existing domestic laws compatible with international human rights standards. The advocacy for change of death penalty was thus includes in the human rights action plan on justice process stipulating that “change shall be advocated to have the National Legislative Assembly to convert death penalty to life sentence” and the activities have been spelled out including;

(1) Raising the awareness on human rights laws among personnel in the justice process and general public, particularly on human dignity and the right to life, which is a fundamental right.

(2) Making an effort to achieve a moratorium on death penalty immediately and voicing support for the resolution on moratorium on the death penalty at the UN General Assembly with intent to eventually abolish death penalty in its law.

(3) Recommending the reduction of offences punishable by death penalty including offences that are not “most serious crimes” per Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) including arson and terrorism, within 2017.

(4) Acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty within 2018.

(5) Building maximum security prison to accommodate inmates committing most serious crimes.

To ensure effective implementation of the Third National Human Rights Action Plan on justice process, the Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberties Protection Department shall act as the following;

2.2.1 Brainstorm among resource persons and experts on human rights and laws aiming to review laws that provide for the use of death penalty on 55 offences (of 63 offences at present) in the Penal Code and other laws and recommend the offences for which the use of death penalty can be abolished. A public seminar on “For Which Criminal Offences, Death Penalty Should be Abolished” was thus organized on 8 August 2014 at Ebina House Hotel, Vibhavadi Rangsit, Bangkok with 53 participants. The results can be summarized as follows;

(1) As to the most serious crimes, death penalty should still be retained, but rather than keeping mandatory death penalty, it should be changed to allow judges to use own discretion in the use of capital punishment.

(2) For certain offences concerning thief or narcotic drug, death penalty can be abolished.

(3) The Rights and Liberties Protection Department should make further effort to explore general social values and if life has been less valued or not as well as to clarify why certain overlapping offences carry different punishments.

(4) There is still a relatively little understanding about crime in society and punishment. The fact should be reviewed again when Thailand is about to move toward changing the death penalty.

(5) There have been positive international and regional/ASEAN trends toward the abolition of death penalty and this should be useful for the advocacy for the abolition of death penalty in Thailand, particularly, the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

2.2.2 A public seminar on “The National Human Rights Action Plan and the Direction of Thailand’s Justice Process” was organized with an aim to garner more understanding and raise the awareness about the Third National Human Rights Action Plan among agencies in the justice process and to gather inputs from target groups on the issue concerning the abolition of death penalty. It took place at the Rama Gardens Hotel, Vibhavadi Rangsit, Bangkok with 131 participants. Most of the participants still disagree with the abolition of death penalty, though they supported the implementation of the Action Plan and to allow judges to use their discretion in sentencing and to reduce the number of offences punishable by death.

2.2.3 Dissemination of briefing on “Campaign to change Death Penalty based on International Human Rights Principles” with an aim to raise the awareness and garner understanding about the abolition of death penalty. The briefing has been circulated among agencies in the justice process, libraries of higher education institutions, and public libraries throughout the country, about 1,000 venues.

2.3 Review readiness for Thailand to become a party to the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, which can be summarized as follows;

(1) Thailand should first ensure full obligation of Article 6 of ICCPR, particularly on the exclusive use of death penalty on the most serious crimes since the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) recommended that Thailand’s use of death penalty for drug-related offences is a breach to ICCPR as drug-related offences are not considered most serious crimes. Therefore, whether Thailand should accede to the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR or not is not more important than Thailand’s compliance with ICCPR on the exclusive use of death penalty on most serious crimes.

(2) If Thailand is determined to abolish death penalty, it should set out a strategic plan, clear operational framework and timeline including

Phase One: Review and identify criminal offences that are not considered the most serious crimes according to international law.

Phase Two: Review the possibility to apply paroling which should be treated as a government policy and to have it reviewed regularly as well as to modernize the country’s penitentiary system.

Phase Three: An amendment should be made to the Penal Code to change maximum punishment from death to life sentence and there shall be constant monitoring of its impacts in terms of the number of criminal incidences, the gravity of the crime and public perception on safety and security.

Phase Four: When Thailand is ready, there should be a recommendation for it to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

2.4 Campaign and seminar and awareness raising among campaign alliances for the abolition of death penalty including among state sector, people sector and international organizations including the delegation of the European Union in Thailand, the Office of National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, etc.

3. Ministry of Justice’s Action Plan

3.1 In pursuance to the recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission to the Prime Minister to make change to laws concerning death penalty: As a result, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Wissanu Krea-ngam, on behalf of the PM, has instructed the Ministry of Justice to promptly convene a meeting among concerned agencies and to produce a report of the review and implementation per the recommendation which shall then be submitted to the Secretariat of the Cabinet which shall then submit it to the cabinet.

The MoJ has then instructed the Office of the Justice Affairs to review information about the possible change of death penalty. The Office of the Justice Affairs then coordinated with the Rights and Liberties Protection Department regarding the results of the review and implementation. The issue has then been raised at the meeting of the Subcommittee for the Development and Enforcement of Law Equally and Fairly no. 2/2559 on 1 March 2016 and the meeting of the Committee for the Development of National Justice Affairs no. 2/2559 on 7 April 2016. At both meetings, it was agreed that change to the death penalty shall be made as follows;

Phase 1 Change from mandatory death penalty to allow judges to make their discretion as to sentencing without having to always impose death penalty.

Phase 2 Abolish death penalty for certain offences, particularly non-fatal offences or offences that cause no fatality to other persons

Phase 3 Abolish death penalty for all crimes

The Office of the Justice Affairs’ Committee for the Development of National Justice Affairs has then proposed a recommendation regarding the reform of laws concerning death penalty and human rights principles to the cabinet1 and the cabinet made a resolution on 26 July 2016 acknowledging and endorsing the MoJ’s recommendation already2. Then, the MoJ’s Permanent Secretary has instructed the Rights and Liberties Protection Department to accept the recommendation and put into practice3.

3.2 The Rights and Liberties Protection Department has convened a meeting between the Rights and Liberties Protection Department; and the Office of the Justice Affairs on 25 May 2017 at Sawang Kamol meeting room, 3rd floor, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department aiming to set out directions and framework of cooperation and to consult on the possibility to set up a joint-committee to campaign and advocate change in death penalty. The recommendations accepted for implementation during the meeting included;

(1) The Rights and Liberties Protection Department; shall independently proceed to campaign for change of death penalty based on human rights principles without having to seek endorsement from the Committee for the Development of National Justice Affairs before any implementation.

(2) A taskforce to enable change of death penalty shall be set up per the cabinet resolution dated 26 July 2016 and the Office of the Justice Affairs shall be willing to take part in the taskforce.

(3) An action plan to advocate change in death penalty shall be drawn and include activities including meetings among agencies responsible for various laws which can be invoked to impose death penalty to make them realize the importance of this campaign and to consult with them over the possibility to make change to certain laws in order to advocate the in-charge agencies to make legal amendments according to the guidelines for change of death penalty aforementioned.

(4) Raising the awareness and engender proper understanding about the campaign for change of death penalty among public officials and general public along with an effort to implement an action plan to advocate change of death penalty per (7).

At present, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department is forming the taskforce to enable change of death penalty and developing an action plan for its implementation as well as is preparing for a review of the possibility to allow judges to use own discretion regarding sentencing in offences punishable by mandatory death penalty. Results of the review shall be submitted to the cabinet later.

4. Positive and negative developments of the movement for change of death penalty in Thailand at present

The movement for change of death penalty in Thailand has elicit both positive impacts that are favorable to the implementation and negative impacts that need to be monitored and prompts a need to raise more social awareness. Concrete examples can be cited as follows;

4.1 Positive developments (1) Recently, Thailand has made change to the Narcotic Act (Vol. 6) 2017, which came into force on 16 January 2017. The amendment has engendered various benefits to the drug-related justice process. For one thing, it enables judges to use own discretion in sentencing. Previously for offences related to import and export of narcotic substances type 1 and its sale shall be liable to mandatory death penalty. But in the newly amended Act, the punishment shall include life imprisonment, a fine from one to five million baht or death and the judges shall be allowed to use own discretion with regard to sentencing. (2) If Thailand can refrain from implementing the capital punishment in the next two years (until 2019), it would make a decade free of execution and we shall be counted as an abolitionist country (the last execution in Thailand took place in 2009). (3) Death penalty shall be included as a long-term policy in the Fourth National Human Rights Action Plan (2019-2023). To raise the awareness and to reduce offences punishable by death. The Draft Plan is now open for inputs.

4.2 Negative developments Previously, the number of offences punishable by death was 55, but after the promulgation of three new laws in 2015 which imposed death penalty on eight offences, the number of such offences has increased to 63 with detail as per the annex. An increase of offences punishable by death has drawn much criticism from international community since the death penalty was imposed on offences concerning economics/property. Such a move was also in breach of the state policy as indicated in the National Human Rights Action Plan. The new offences punishable by death have been added by the three following laws;

(1) The Organic Act on Counter Corruption B.E 2558 (Vol. 2)

(2) The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act BE 2558 (Vol.2)

(3) The Act on Certain Offences Against Air Navigation BE 2558
1Letter from the Committee for the Development of National Justice Affairs, the Office of the Justice Affairs no, YT 0902/808 dated 27 April 2016 concerning ‘Recommendations for the Reform of Laws concerning Death Penalty and Human Rights Principles’ from the Deputy Prime Minister (Wissanu Krea-ngam) to the Secretary General of the Cabinet and a letter from the Ministry of Justice no. YT 0904/710 dated 1 February 2016 on ‘Policy Recommendations and other Recommendations for the Reform of Laws concerning Death Penalty and Human Rights Principles’ from the Minister of Justice to the Secretary General of the Cabinet

2Letter from the Office of Minister, Ministry of Justice ‘Most Urgent’ no. YT 0101/ W843 dated 26 July 2016 on ‘A Meeting Minutes from the cabinet meeting no. 29/2559’

3Letter from the Office of the Justice Affairs no. YT 0904/1932 dated 26 October 2016 on ‘Policy Recommendations and other Recommendations for the Reform of Laws concerning Death Penalty and Human Rights Principles’