Annual report finds Thai prisons well below international standards

An annual report has found that Thai prisons in 2022 were well below international standards. The no-governmental organisation, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Union for Civil Liberty released the report yesterday, according to Prachatai English.

The report findings show that the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak led to authorities making little progress in implementing lessons learned from the pandemic to improve prison conditions and the well-being of inmates.

FIDH Secretary-General, Adilur Rahman Khan, commented on the findings.

“Former prisoners described inhuman and degrading treatment to which no inmate should be subjected. While authorities have taken some positive steps to address some blatantly abusive situations, the overall picture of prison conditions remains bleak. The Thai government must increase its efforts to make prison conditions consistent with international standards and the country’s human rights obligations.”

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Inadequate and crowded accommodation conditions, cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment and punishment, unsanitary conditions, extremely poor quality of food and drinking water, inadequate access to healthcare, exploitative work, limited contacts with the outside world, lack of recreational and rehabilitative activities and ineffective complaint procedures were reported.

Independent human rights organisations’ access to prisons to monitor such conditions continued to be restricted.

However, authorities pledged to adopt measures to eradicate abusive labour practices in prisons nationwide. One example of this pledge includes the Department of Corrections ordering an end to the contracts for the use of prison labour for the production of fishing nets.

Another positive development in 2022, was the decrease of the total prison population by 6%, which has been trending downward since 2019. But, overcrowding continues to plague prisons. In 2022, 106 of 143 facilities were found to be operating above their official capacity limits.

Almost 80% of prisoners were found to be incarcerated for drug-related offences. The number of prisoners on death row increased by 14%, which has reversed a three-year downward trend.

Furthermore, many measures that were introduced to prevent the spread of Covid were relaxed or discontinued as the situation eased. One of those discontinued measures was a scheme that aimed to release some prisoners early to reduce the number of inmates.

FIDH’s and UCL’s annual prison report is the only independent and thorough assessment of prison conditions in Thailand. The report makes many practical recommendations for the improvement of prison conditions in accordance with international standards.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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