Students in northern Thailand consider pathways for abolishing the death penalty

Panel discusses national efforts amidst a global trend towards universal abolition

Cover - Students in northern Thailand consider pathways for abolishing the death penalty

The EU Delegation to Thailand (EUD) organised a panel discussion titled ‘Reflecting on Thailand's Path Towards Abolishing the Death Penalty’ on 11 October 2023 at Chiang Mai University (CMU), in conjunction with the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Around 50 participants – most of whom are students pursuing not only law but also social sciences and mass communication – were introduced to a strong case for abolition of the death penalty, which has become a global trend in recent years.

Thailand is one of the 55 countries worldwide that retain the death penalty in law and in practice, but the government has demonstrated a renewed commitment to move towards abolishing the capital punishment.

EUD's Head of the Political, Press and Information Section Ms Laure Brachet thanked CMU and its Faculty of Law for their co-organisation of the event along with partner the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) of the Ministry of Justic. EUD’s cooperation with RLPD has produced annual campaigns since 2017, to raise public awareness around the cruelty of the death penalty and its violation of human rights. Film screenings were organised in 2020, and this year continues a targeted focus on students since last year’s panel discussion in Bangkok.

Bringing together northern Thailand’s students from CMU, Bankadwitthayakom School, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, Payap University and Ramkhamhaeng University, this year’s 'Reflecting on Thailand's Path Towards Abolishing the Death Penalty' promoted understanding and awareness of EU values in contribution to the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024 and EU Multi-annual Indicative Programme for Thailand (2021-2027).

Moderated by Ms Kannikar Petchkaew, an independent journalist based in Chiang Mai, the panel featured Associate Professor Somchai Preechasinlapakun, Head of the Legal Research and Development Centre at CMU’s Faculty of Law; Ms Nareeluc Pairchaiyapoom, Director of International Human Rights Division at RLPD; and Associate Professor Dr Gothom Arya, representing the Thai Network for the Abolition of the Death Penalty from the civil society.

Panellists agreed that the death penalty is an inhuman and degrading punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent to crime. Their open discussion with students touched on a range of arguments for its abolition including the risk of wrongful executions. Recognising that the road towards abolition may be long in Thailand, they discussed possible steps such as a moratorium on executions and revision of legal provisions containing the capital punishment.

After the exchange, the majority of students in the audience shared that they found the panel discussion beneficial, coming to understand more about the issue as a result and wanting to engage further on the topic.

As EUD continues its work with students and the broader public, announcements for coming activities will continue to be publicised on Facebook and X.

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