By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
On the occasion of the European and World Day against the Death Penalty, the European Union in Thailand held a panel discussion on the topic “The Global Trend towards Abolishing the Death Penalty: Implications for Thailand”.
The discussion aimed to underline the ethical problems surrounding capital punishment, along with its inefficiency in preventing violent crimes and ensuring justice.
In his opening remarks to the meeting, the European Union’s Ambassador to Thailand, Pirkka Tapiola, said the EU was one of the major supporters of the campaign to end capital punishment and was working constructively towards that goal with other members of the global community.
Despite the global trend now moving towards ending capital punishment, Tapiola said there was a negative development in June when Thailand – which had long refrained from executing prisoners – resumed the practice.
“Capital punishment is not the way to go,” he stressed.
“Throughout the world, two-thirds of the global community has already abolished capital punishment, because it not only infringes on the most fundamental principle of human rights – the right to live – but it is also ineffective at preventing crime.”
In contrast to many people’s view that severe punishment such as the death sentence could scare criminals and reduce the crime rate, studies have proven that the death penalty cannot guarantee a safer society.
“We can see the examples in Europe, where all countries except for Belarus have stopped executing prisoners, yet many European states have a very low crime rate,” he |said.
Emilio de Miguel Calabia, Spain’s Ambassador to Thailand, spoke of his country’s experience as it set out to abolish the death penalty.
Spanish citizens saw capital punishment as an inhumane practice, which is only preserved in authoritarian countries.
That was because the last execution in Spain took place in 1975, back in the fascist era of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.
After Spain became a democratic country, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 ended capital punishment for ordinary crimes before, in 1995, the country abolished the death penalty for good, Calabia said.
“Thailand can look to the good example of its neighbour Cambodia as a role model – Cambodia has a progressive Constitution that guarantees all Khmer citizens the rights to life, personal freedom and security in its Article 2,” he said.
Totally abolished death penalty
According to Amnesty International, 106 countries globally had totally abandoned the death penalty for all crimes by last year, seven had stopped executing prisoners for ordinary crimes and 29 had abolished the death penalty in practice, although not officially.
Within the Southeast Asia Region, only Cambodia, Philippines and Timor-Leste have totally abolished the death penalty. Even though Brunei, Laos and Myanmar have retained the right to impose capital punishment, they have not |executed anyone during the last 10 years.
Amnesty International reported that more than 2,590 people were executed in 53 countries last year, with most of the cases in China (more than 1,000 cases), while Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan were among other countries executing the most prisoners.