25 Aug 2004 - The so-called Queen's amnesty for prisoners in Thailand, which had been announced,
rumoured and anticipated for so long, is turning out to be a big disappointment for
There were rumours that prisoners over 60 years old who had good prison records and
had served much of their sentences would be released on 9th August. On that day only
about 10 prisoners with minor sentences were released from Lard Yao women's prison.
Vishnu Kumari, an old Nepali woman who has served many years, was not released.
Alan John Davies, a 61-year-old British man who has served over 14 years in Thai
prisons, was also not released from Klong Prem Central Prison on that day.
Both are feeling very let down by empty rumours which Thai prison officials apparently
even help to spread themselves.
It appears that most of the prisoners released in the amnesty so far are those who
had minor sentences. Drugs cases, which are about 80% of all cases in Thailand,
received only 1/6th sentence reductions from their long sentences.
This has disappointed many. It continues the Thai policy of treating drug offences as
even worse than murder. Murder cases, together with other non-drug cases,
received 1/2 sentence reductions!
Some death-sentence cases at Bangkwang were reduced to life sentences.
Some life sentences were reduced to 40 years.
Prisoners tell me there are new prison directors at both Bangkwang Central Prison
in Nonthaburi and at the Central Women Correctional Institution in Lard Yao,
Bangkok. But I do not have confirmation or details as yet. Prisoners are reporting
that changes and prisoner movements are going on under these new directors.
At Bangkwang officials have been collecting information about hilltribe prisoners.
This is probably as a direct result of our work to support these poor people.
The King's office has acknowledged receipt of the petition on behalf of hilltribe
prisoners, which was sent in June. It says that the relevant officials have been
informed of the petition.
Thank you on behalf of the prisoners for all of your support and concern.
- Paul Hunt August 25, 2004