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As the number of criminals condemned to death in the deep south of Thailand increases, the country’s Union for Civil Liberty is calling for the abolition of capital punishment in the kingdom.
On Monday a meeting was held by the union at the foundation of the Islamic Centre and after much discussion with regards to the situation in the south, experts confirmed that the global trend is moving away from the death penalty.
In the south, unlike the rest of Thailand, the traditional criminal law does not take effect, rather special marshal laws come into play that deeply affect the judicial process and this includes the absence of a person rights to a lawyer during interrogation and suspects being apprehend without a warrant for their arrest.
Human rights activist and union member Dr. Danthong Breen spoke extensively on the security of legal cases in the restive region, he said that the handing down of the death sentence requires the highest possible security and went on to say 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 has already abolished capital punishment in their countries.