government: constitutional monarchy
state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: signed by King on 24 August 2007
legal system: based on civil law system, with influences of common law
legislative system: bicameral National Assembly (Rathasapha) consists of the Senate (Wuthisapha) and the House of Representatives (Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon)
judicial system: Supreme Court (Sandika), judges appointed by the monarch
religion: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1%
death row: 413, including 50 women (as of 31 December 2015, according to the Department of Corrections). About 55% had been convicted of drug-related offences.
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 5
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (made reservation to the interpretation of Art. 6 which prohibits the death penalty for minors)
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
Penal Code alone, the death sentence can be applied to 35 crimes, ranging from
offences against the King, treason, murder, rape in which the victim is killed
and arson, to robbery which results in death. Exploitation of position by a
legislative official for his/her own benefit is also subjected to the
punishment, although in practice no one has ever faced it.
The death penalty applies in Thailand also to heroin or amphetamine drug
trafficking and especially when a prisoner is found guilty after pleading not
guilty at the start of the trial. A guilty plea allows judicial leniency - 25
years to life in jail instead of execution for heroin trafficking and export.
According to the Thai Penal Code, prisoners who receive the death sentence can
appeal for a royal pardon. The appeal must be made within 60 days of the
verdict. Each prisoner can appeal only once.
If the pardon is granted, execution will be commuted to life imprisonment.
It is never known in advance when a death warrant is to be issued, and
executions are performed only once in a while. Usually a death warrant arrives
in the morning and the execution takes place in the evening of the same day.
Before the day of execution, the police will take fingerprints from the
prisoner to compare them to those in the prisoner's file to ensure that the
wrong person is not executed.
If the prisoner is a Buddhist, monks will be invited to give a sermon, followed
by the reading of the death sentence by the prison director.
A pregnant convict may not be executed until the baby is born. Insane prisoners
are also spared execution, at least until they recover. If their treatment
takes more than one year, the sentence is commuted to life.
On May 9, 2003 Thailand's Senate approved the bill banning capital punishment
and life imprisonment for convicts younger than 18, a measure already approved
by the lower chamber in November 2002. The maximum penalty for juveniles was
set at 50 years in jail.
In a previous debate on this bill at the Senate, on March 17, 2003 several
senators called for the complete abolition of the death penalty and for lesser
jail terms for under 18-year-olds saying these people would be unable to live a
normal life after 50 years in prison.
There are credible reports of police ill-treating and torturing suspects in
pre-trial detention to extract confessions. Confessions are regularly used as
evidence in capital trials, and defendants have maintained in court that police
forced them to confess.
resumed executions in 1995 after a de facto eight-year suspension.
>Thailand may abolish the death
penalty under the Third National Human
Rights Plan for the years 2014-2018. “The goal of the plan is to abolish
death penalty,” said Chanchao Chaiyanukit, deputy permanent secretary of the
Ministry of Justice. Bowornsak Uwanno, the head of the junta-appointed
Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC), said he planned to add a clause in the
new Constitution to explicitly ban the death penalty in Thailand.
On 26 March 2015, the National
Legislative Assembly passed amendments to the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of
2008, allowing the death penalty in trafficking cases resulting in death.
On 12 July 2015, amendments to the
Organic Act on Counter Corruption of 1999 came into effect, imposing a severe
penalty regime, including the death penalty or life imprisonment, on foreign
public officials, international organisation workers and state officials who
have demanded or accepted bribes.
Although Thailand did not perform
any judicial executions between 2004 and 2008, the practice resumed in August
2009, when two men convicted of drug trafficking were executed by lethal
injection in the Prison of Bang Khwang in Bangkok.
In 2015, for the sixth consecutive
year, no executions were carried out in Thailand.
Thailand has executed 325 convicts,
including 3 women, since 1934, when it began using firing squads instead of
beheadings, according to government figures.
According to Amnesty International,
at least 7 new death sentences were imposed in 2015, compared to at least 55 issued
As of 31 December 2015, there were 413
people on death row, including 50 women, according to the Department of
Corrections. About 55% had been convicted of drug-related offences.
11 May 2016, Thailand was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the
UN Human Rights Council. The Government only supported limited recommendations
with regard to the death penalty, that is: to take concrete steps towards
abolishing the death penalty; to reconsider the abolition of the death penalty
as a sentence for various crimes; and to review the imposition of the death
penalty for offences related to drug trafficking. In the final remarks, the
Thailand delegation led by the minister of justice orally mentioned that even
though some 80 per cent of Thais are against the abolition of the death
penalty, the government is committed to work towards abolition. The country’s
intention was reaffirmed in the Third National Human Rights Plan. The
delegation said that Thailand’s plan towards abolition will be carried out in
three stages. In the first stage, there will be a return of discretion in
sentencing to judges for offences that carry the death penalty. In the second
stage, there will the abolition of death penalty for certain offences. And
lastly, the death penalty will be abolished.
On December 19, 2016, Thailand abstained
on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN
General Assembly. It is the forth consecutive time that Thai delegates
abstained on voting on the motion; Thailand voted ‘no’ in 2008 and 2007, when
the motion was first introduced to the UN General Assembly.