Responding to the news that Thailand executed a 26-year-old man for aggravated murder on 18 June, in the country’s first execution since August 2009, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand Campaigner, said:
“This is a deplorable violation of the right to life. Thailand is reneging on its own commitment to move towards the abolition of the death penalty, and is putting itself out of step with the current global shift away from capital punishment.
“There is no evidence that the death penalty has any unique deterrent effect, so the Thai authorities’ hope that this move will reduce crime is deeply misguided. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and provides no quick-fixes to problems the authorities want to confront.
“After almost ten years without an execution, this represents a major setback in the country’s journey towards abolition. The Thai government must immediately halt any plans to carry out further executions and establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty.”
This is the first execution in Thailand since two men were executed by lethal injection in August 2009, which followed a period of no executions since 2003. Figures provided by the Ministry of Justice state that at the end of 2017, 510 people, including 94 women, were on death row of whom 193 had exhausted all final appeals. More than half are believed to have been sentenced for drug-related offences.
While the imposition of the mandatory death penalty is prohibited under international law, the death penalty in Thailand remains mandatory for a number of offences, including aggravated murder. Many of the offences for which the death penalty may be applied do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law in countries where it has not yet been abolished.
As of today, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 142 in total are abolitionist in law or practice.