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Curfew violators made to volunteer at temples

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

As Thailand’s already crowded prisons struggle to cope with an influx of a new type of criminal, the “curfew violator”, the Department of Probation has come up with a novel solution – send them to the temples.

Thailand has had a national curfew in place since the establishment of the country’s emergency decree on March 26. Initially it was from 10pm – 4am, then reduced to 11pm – 4am. It is now expected to be reduced further to Midnight – 4am in the next week or so. The emergency decree will continue until the end of June whereby PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the government-appointed CSSA will continue to call the shots without having to obtain permission from the Thai parliament.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, the Supreme Patriarch, head of the order of Buddhist monks, created soup kitchens at over 900 temples to help feed those who had lost their livelihoods and were struggling to afford food. Now, instead of going to prison, some curfew breakers are being sent there to help out.

Vittawan Sunthornkajit, director-general of the Department of Probation, says curfew violators who have also committed serious offences during curfew hours are still being sent to prison. However, those found guilty of more minor misdemeanours are instead given a warning and then sent to the soup kitchens, where they can help out while being kept under surveillance. Placements range from 7 days to a month, with Vittawan saying the courts have so far sent 2,276 offenders their way.

It’s hoped that being part of the charitable work carried out at temples will instill a sense of conscientiousness (“samnuek di”, in Thai) in lawbreakers and make them aware of the effect their bad behaviour has on society as a whole.

“These wrongdoers will help monks give food to the affected villagers. We want them to see how so many people suffer.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Chiangrai Times


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