EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 39/05/97
UA 350/97 Executions / Fear of further executions 6 November 1997
THAILANDPhnom Thaweesuk, aged 26
Boonchote Pongprahm, aged 38
Two men were shot by firing squad on 5 November 1997 in the first executions
in Thailand for almost two years. The executions have raised serious fears
for others on death row in Thailand.
Phnom Thaweesuk and Boonchote Pongprahm, both convicted of rape and murder,
were executed at Bangkwang maximum security prison in Nonthaburi province,
north of Bangkok, the capital. Death sentences are not always reported in
Thailand, and Amnesty International was unaware that these two men were under
sentence of death.
As with all executions in Thailand, Phnom Thaweesuk and Boonchote Pongprahm
were killed in secret and without prior warning. Amnesty International now
fears that any of the other 158 prisoners on death row in Thailand could be
similarly executed at any time.
Previously, the last execution in Thailand was in January 1996, when Prommas
Leamsai was killed by firing squad. As the first execution in nine years,
it set an ominous precedent for the revival of the death penalty.
Article 31 of the new constitution, adopted in October 1997, allows for the
death penalty. The death penalty in Thailand is mandatory for premeditated
murder; the murder of an official on government business; production or
trafficking of heroin, and regicide. It is optional for rape, robbery,
kidnapping, arson, and bombing if death results, insurrection, treason, airline
hijacking and espionage, and possession of more than 100 grams of heroin or
amphetamines. At least 37 death sentences have been imposed this year, for
murder, rape and murder, and drugs trafficking.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
ENGLISH or your own language:
- expressing deep regret that the Thai authorities executed Phnom Thaweesuk
and Boonchote Pongprahm;
- seeking assurances that the 158 other prisoners on death row in Thailand
will not be executed;
- expressing sympathy for the victims of violent crime, but voicing opposition
to the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and the right not
to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as proclaimed in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stressing that the death penalty
has never been shown to be an effective deterrent to such crimes and is
brutalizing to all involved in its application;
- calling on the Royal Thai Government to abolish the death penalty by amending
the new Constitution.
(*)PLESE NOTE THE FOLLOWING CORRECTION:
Minister of Interior is now Sanan Kachornprasart
Minister of Foreign Affairs is now Surin Pitsuwan
(attorney general remains the same)
Minister of the Interior (*)