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Dreams of Justice in Bangkok
14th May 2005

Delegates from a U.N. meeting on crime and justice in Bangkok last month went on a visit to the notorious women's prison at Lard Yao. The visit and the official reports were obviously stage-managed by the Thai authorities for another propaganda parade.

Unofficial reports say that foreign prisoners held at the women's prison were carefully kept away from the visiting delegates in case they spoke about what really goes on there when the place is not theatre-managed for official visits.

Meanwhile, Vishnu Kumari Vishta, a 69-year-old Nepali inmate, who had recently become yet another victim of TB and internal problems in the prison, was suffering in the nearby Klong Prem Prison Hospital. It is all the more revealing of Thai justice that she had been told by officials she would be released in last August's Queen's amnesty, but it didn't happen! I don't think she was allowed to meet the delegates.

How it seems to U.N. delegates and the official press is not how it really is in Thailand's "Brokedown Palace"!

The prison is seriously overcrowded. Prisoners sleep on the floor like sardines almost on top of eachother. The food is terrible and prisoners only have a short time to eat it. The water is dirty. Prisoners are effectively forced to labour for little or no credit on their prison accounts, and they must pay even for bare essentials like soap and decent food. Is it any wonder that many prisoners suffer from stomache, and other internal, ailments? Is it any wonder that the number of TB cases is high?

Do the delegates have the full details about prison conditions, even after their visit? Are the high numbers of ethnic hilltribe minority inmates considered, who are treated like outcasts in their own land? Is Thailand really adhering to U.N. standards for prisoners?

Following is some official information from the Congress. Can Thailand make the required prison, police and law reforms necessary to see that justice is done in their land, and not the mockery of it?

The 11th U.N. Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice took place from 18 to 25 April in Bangkok. There were 2,370 participants in the Congress, including many Ministers of Justice and other high-level officials, as well as representatives from 167 non-governmental organizations and 1,135 individual expert observers, according to the U.N. Information Service.

The Congress’ opening session was addressed by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand. The Secretary-General of the Congress, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the President of the Congress, Suwat Liptapanlop, Minister of Justice of Thailand made closing remarks.

The Congress recommended that the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice give consideration to reviewing the adequacy of standards and norms in relation to prison management and prisoners. To promote the interests of victims and the rehabilitation of offenders, it recognized the importance of further developing restorative justice policies, including alternatives to prosecution.

Salvatore Pennacchio, Observer of the Holy See, said that one aspect of concern for the prevention of crime and criminal justice was the effective implementation of the United Nations established rules concerning the just treatment of prisoners and minors. Due consideration should be given to the proposals for the elaboration of a Charter of the Fundamental Rights of Prisoners. Particular attention in such a document should be devoted to a treatment of prisoners that fully respected their human dignity and to their meaningful reinsertion into society.


Official Sources:

  • http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2005/bkkcp25.html
  • http://www.un.org/webcast/crime2005/statements/25draftbkkdeclaration.pdf
  • http://www.correct.go.th/comnet1/un/pv1.html
  • http://www.bangkokpost.net/200405_News/20Apr2005_news09.php

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