Thailand: ICJ holds workshop for journalists on death penalty and calls for its abolition

On 9 October 2019, in commemoration of the World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October), the ICJ, Thai Journalists Association (TJA), Internews, and the Delegation of the European Union in Thailand held a workshop on “Legal, Moral and Human Rights Issues in Death Penalty” at the Thai Journalists’ Association.

The participants included 35 journalists from various news agencies in Thailand and journalism and human rights students.

The course aimed to help strengthen the capacity of journalists to write informatively and critically about death penalty issues in Thailand. Through this course, journalists learned about the abolition of death penalty in other regions of the world and reviewed cases which have transformed public opinion on capital punishment around the world.

Sanhawan Srisod, the ICJ’s Legal Adviser, held a session to discuss capital punishment in Thailand’s criminal justice system. She underscored that there is no perfect justice system and as the risk of miscarriage of justice is always present, the death penalty should not be retained. She further encouraged journalists to help strengthen calls for an effective criminal justice response to serious crimes, as an alternative to the death penalty. She further pointed out current domestic investigation and prosecution practices which risk breaching international law and standards. These, she noted, may hamper the legality and efficiency of investigations and prosecutions, and pose a risk of rendering an innocent person eligible for capital punishment.

Other speakers at the Workshop included:

  • E. Mr Pirkka Tapiola, Ambassador of the European Union to Thailand
  • E. Mr Emilio de Miguel Calabia, Ambassador of Spain to Thailand
  • Judge Hanne Sophie Greve, Commissioner, the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP)
  • Representative from Thailand’s Ministry of Justice
  • Toshi Kazama, Photographer and anti-death penalty advocate
  • Orasom Suthisakorn, Author and prison writing course instructor


The ICJ categorically opposes the death penalty in all situations and considers it a violation of the right to life and a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

Thailand has repeated commitments on the international stage to work towards abolition and has committed to becoming an abolitionist state in its master plan for human rights.

In June 2018, however, 26-year-old Teerasak Longji was executed by lethal injection for aggravated murder. It was Thailand’s first execution in nine years. The last previous execution occurred in 2009 when two men were executed for drug-related crimes.

The UN General Assembly, has repeatedly adopted Resolutions supported by very wide majorities, calling on all retentionist states to observe a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to full abolition.

Thailand is a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Thailand has not become party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty in law and practice.

In March 2017, the UN Human Rights Committee, the body mandated to interpret and monitor compliance with respect to the ICCPR, issued Concluding Observations after reviewing Thailand’s 2nd country report on the implementation of its obligations under the ICCPR. The Human Rights Committee recommended that Thailand  “consider abolishing the death penalty and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR”, and if the death penalty is maintained, to “take all measures necessary… to ensure that it is limited to the most serious crimes, such as acts carried out with the intention of killing.”

There are reportedly 55 crimes punishable by death in Thailand, including crimes relating to corruption, bribery and drugs, which do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” within the meaning of the ICCPR.

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