Network urges end of death penalty

Network urges end of death penalty

41% of Thais back capital punishment

Activists rally in Bangkok in 2014 to urge for death penalty on rapists. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Activists rally in Bangkok in 2014 to urge for death penalty on rapists. (File photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The Network for the Abolition of the Death Penalty on Thursday urged Thailand to make progress towards abolishing the death penalty by acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to end capital punishment.

Gothom Arya, a representative of the network, said at the panel held at Chulalongkorn University to mark World Day Against the Death Penalty -- which fell on Thursday -- that a push for an outright end to the death penalty in Thailand would be a difficult task because of the prevalent belief in society that a guilty person needs to go through his (or her) karma: if one commits a violent act, he deserves a violent consequence.

"There is a belief that if there's no death penalty, convicts will return to society and harm again. I think the process towards abolishing the death penalty in Thailand is likely to be a time-consuming one," he said.

According to a survey conducted by Mahidol University, 41% of Thais want to keep the death penalty, while 51% were undecided.

Only 8% of the population supported abolishing it.

Mr Gothom said although Thailand may not be able to push for an outright end to the death penalty, the country can make progress by acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which allows member countries to gradually reduce the number of crimes liable to capital punishment instead of pushing for an outright end.

"If the death penalty is maintained, Thailand should take all measures necessary to ensure that it is limited to the most serious crimes, such as acts carried out with the intention of killing," he said.

Mr Gothom said Thailand is now among a number of countries in the world where the death penalty is known to have been imposed or implemented for drug-related, corruption and bribery offences, which do not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes.

Atcharapan Jaraswathana, a professor of Criminology at Mahidol University, said there is no evidence the death penalty has any unique deterrent effect, so the hope of Thai authorities' that the death penalty will reduce crime is misguided.

"The death penalty is ultimately a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which provides no quick-fixes to problems the authorities want to confront," she said.

Jacques Lapouge, the Ambassador of France to Thailand, said France and the European Union firmly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances.


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