(New York) – 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 first 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 six 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 nine 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.”