Thailand pushes for “Strengthening of Criminal Justice Systems”

Thailand pushes for “Strengthening of Criminal Justice Systems”

Thailand pushes for “Strengthening of Criminal Justice Systems” in response to COVID-19 at UN Forum

After COVID-19 turned into a pandemic, crimes have been rising in many countries with critical impacts on their prison situations. During the past year, a number of nations have struggled with how to manage COVID-19 infections inside prisons.

Most prisons, after all, are overcrowded with the number of inmates far exceeding their actual capacity. Prepared by the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) and Penal Reform International (PRI), the Global Prison Trends 2021 report reveals how prison overcrowding has plagued as many as 118 nations. In some countries, the number of prisoners has exceeded the correctional facilities’ capacity by 450-600%. More than 530,000 prisoners thus have contracted COVID-19 around the globe.

While judicial development is an internal affair of each nation, the international framework has a role to play because the issue is also deeply related to human rights. International mechanisms such as the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) can help upgrade judicial standards at a global level. 

This year, CCPCJ convened its session in the middle of May with Thailand pushing for the resolution of “Strengthening criminal justice systems during and after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”. Drafted by Thailand’s Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the TIJ, this resolution seeks to enable country members to learn from experiences during the pandemic and strengthen criminal justice systems further. Strengthening efforts can be made through the collaboration between health authorities and prison authorities for the provision of efficient health services for prisoners, the formulation of punishment policies that are rooted in the principle of proportionality, and non-custodial measures. 

This resolution also encourages country members to pay attention to gender-specific needs of female prisoners. In addition, it requires the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to conduct further research into COVID-19 impacts on criminal justice processes, so as to find recommendations on how to address challenges that may arise in the future. Members of the United Nations Programme Network Institute (UN-PNI) were encouraged to consider judicial-reform issues in the COVID-19 era and integrate them in their plans, so as to enhance judicial efficiency. At this international forum, Thailand also highlighted “the integration of sport into youth crime prevention and criminal justice strategies”.  

The TIJ, moreover, attended the parallel meeting on “Holistic crime prevention approaches: The contribution of the sport sector towards youth and community resilience” during the CCPCJ session. 

“As a UN-PNI member, the TIJ is committed to exploring new approaches, strengthening multisectoral collaboration, and promoting concepts that can comprehensively and creatively address challenges in the judicial sector for the ultimate goal of fulfilling the shared international missions,” TIJ executive-director Dr. Phiset Sa-ardyen said at the 30th session of CCPCJ. 

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