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
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
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.
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.