NEWS RELEASE: UN Human Rights Office expresses dismay at the resumption of death penalty in Thailand
Bangkok (19 June 2018) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) deeply regrets the execution of Mr. Theerasak Longji. The United Nations opposes the use of capital punishment in all circumstances as reiterated by the UN Secretary-General at many occasions.
Yesterday evening, the Department of Corrections publicly announced that Mr. Theerasak, 26-year old, has been executed by lethal injection. He was sentenced to death for assaulting and stabbing a person to death in the South of Thailand. At the time of writing, the reasons to proceed with the execution of Mr. Theerasak remain unclear bearing in mind that the Royal Thai Government did not carry out death sentences for the past nine years. This development was unexpected as Thailand has been showing a progressive approach which was consistent with the growing number of States that have abolished capital punishment.
“The resumption of death penalty runs contrary to Thailand’s human rights commitments at national and international levels. During the Universal Periodic Review in 2016, Thailand expressed its commitment to take measures to abolish the death penalty”, said Cynthia Veliko, the Representative of OHCHR South-East Asia Regional Office. “This pledge was reaffirmed in Thailand’s Third National Human Rights Action Plan.”
OHCHR is further concerned that the execution was carried out without prior notice. Transparency is required by the general population for informed public debate and democratic accountability. In addition, the international community, which is moving progressively towards abolition, has an interest in monitoring the respect and protection of the right to life everywhere. The UN Human Rights Committee have concluded that State-held information regarding the use of the death penalty was a legitimate issue of public interest and consequently recognised a general right to gain access to that information deriving from article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guaranteeing freedom of expression and information.
OHCHR has been concerned by several setbacks on death penalty reform in South East Asia. Yesterday execution is another illustration of this concerning pattern. “We urge the Royal Thai Government to take steps to immediately instate a moratorium on the use of the death penalty as part of a process toward the full abolishment of capital punishment” said Ms. Veliko.