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Overhaul of Thai justice system required to deal with prison overcrowding

Maya Taylor

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Overhaul of Thai justice system required to deal with prison overcrowding | Thaiger

PHOTO: Scmp.com

There are nearly 400,000 people behind bars in Thailand. 70% of the men in prison are there for drug-related offences. In the case of women, it’s 87%.

Thailand has the highest number of prisoners in ASEAN, the sixth highest in the world.

The notorious overcrowding for which the prisons are known is so bad that an inmate does not even have a metre of space in which to lie down.

The country’s prison system has space for 120,000 inmates, but is home to more than 300,000.

This was the subject being discussed in Bangkok yesterday, at a joint seminar between the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ), who were considering other options for those with jail terms of less than 5 years.

TIJ director Kittipong Kittayarak blames the country’s strict drug laws, which currently mean that anyone found to have any connection to methamphetamines will be given a prison term.

He says that in 2000 and 2001, those with drug convictions were moved to drug rehabilitation centres, reducing the number of prison inmates from 240,000 to 160,000. But lack of a properly structured rehabilitation programme and failure to prioritise a public health policy to tackle the problem means it’s back.

Kittipong says a justice system that prioritised rehabilitation over retaliation would have better results in the long-term. He believes the system should enable wrongdoers to see the error of their ways and feel remorse, while providing victims with compensation, as happens with road traffic accidents.

Kittipong also suggests drug abusers and small-time dealers be separated from major drug traffickers in line with a better public health policy.

Moreover, he said, police and public prosecutors should find a better method of settling cases out of court and consider other methods such as electronic monitoring devices with limited freedom, probation or social services for petty criminals.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thailand

THAILAND NEWS TODAY | Slight drop in new cases, Pattaya Pit Bull aftermath, Australia and NZ travel bubble | April 19

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THAILAND NEWS TODAY | Slight drop in new cases, Pattaya Pit Bull aftermath, Australia and NZ travel bubble | April 19 | Thaiger

 

Thailand’s CCSA reported a total of 1,390 new Covid infections today, tallied from Thailand’s provinces in the past 24 hours. The good news is that the tally is a welcome drop in new case reports. The bad news is that it’s still a record levels of new infections, compared to the last surges in December last year and earlier in April 2020. Yesterday there were 1,767 new infections reported by the CCSA.

3 more people have died of Covid-related illnesses, 14,851 people remain under state supervision.

After Bangkok with 293 new infections, Chiang Mai reported 197 cases, Chon Buri 98, Samut Prakan (south east of Bangkok) 82, Nonthaburi (directly north west of Bangkok) 39, Nakhon Pathom 38, and Samut Sakhon 32 and Songkhla 32.

Only 6 of today’s new infections were reported.

Meanwhile, the next school term, scheduled to kick off again next month, could be deferred until June due if the current situation persists. Thai Education Minister says the proposed postponement will be discussed with the Office of the Basic Education Commission today.

And, the Ministry of Interior has just updated their ‘List of Provinces with Entry Restrictions’ bringing the new total to 47 provinces that have restrictions to get in. The message from the government is that if you’re in a red zone province you should try and stay there and not leave your province.

Local provinces continue to upgrade their arrival restrictions. It’s impossible for us to keep track of the 77 provinces and whatever we say now will be wrong before we even post the video. So please keep an eye on your local province’s official notices about travel.

Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working with other environmental departments to determine how best to save a popular tourist attraction in Phang Nga bay. Khao Ta Pu, locally known as James Bond island for tourists, in at risk of collapse, due to seawater erosion. The ministry is working with counterparts in the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, in efforts to save the popular day trip attraction.

Whilst travel bubbles remain a bureaucratic nightmare for most SE Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand have opened their first green lanes since April last year, nearly 400 days. For the two countries it allows family and friends to re-unite. For New Zealand it opens the gates for its largest chunk of tourists. In 2019 some 1.5 million tourists visited New Zealand from Australia.

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry insists the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese firm Sinovac, is effective in protecting recipients against the virus. Dr. Supakit Sirilak from the Department of Medical Science was responding to a claim on social media from a man who says he took a rapid test after receiving the CoronaVac vaccine and it showed he’d developed no immunity whatsoever.

Things have gone from bad to worse to worse in the story about the man attacked by his pit bull in Chon Buri last week. After being rescued from the attack, the man died the next day from neck bites and loss of blood. Now his widow is lashing out at the wave of online attacks levied against the family and their treatment of the dog, threatening legal action using Thailand’s strict computer crime and defamation laws.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Current list of restrictions for provinces around Thailand

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Current list of restrictions for provinces around Thailand | Thaiger

The situation continues to be quite fluid. But if you need to travel at this time, here are the latest restrictions in the red and orange zone provinces. If you planning on travelling, you need to get acquainted with the latest restrictions in your destination province, and you should check if you need additional travel documents.

The could change at any time, so if you are going to be doing any travelling (the government are advising against it), you should get your paperwork ready in advance.

Provincial governors are also being given latitude by the central government to upscale any of the restrictions to meet local situations.

The infographic was compiled by the NBT.

Current list of restrictions for provinces around Thailand | News by Thaiger

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Tourism

Thailand’s 3rd wave wreaks havoc on the Tourism Restart Plan – where are we now?

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Thailand’s 3rd wave wreaks havoc on the Tourism Restart Plan – where are we now? | Thaiger
PHOTO: Empty beaches of Hua Hin - AJ Wood

OPINION by Andrew J Wood

Thailand Ministers ponder the next steps to re-start it’s massive tourism industry, initially set for July 1, 2021 in Phuket. The plan may need to be overhauled as Phuket struggles to immunise the whole island in the wake of the third wave of hotspots. Phuket, prior to the third wave had already secured more than 100,000 doses and planned to receive an additional 930,000 doses by June.

This would be enough for 70% of the population – the target needed to achieve herd immunity. The spike in Covid-19 cases has interrupted this plan, as vaccines must also be allocated to other provinces urgently to help fight the latest outbreaks.

Not deterred, the Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said he plans to meet next week with all relevant agencies to discuss the reopening plan, previously set for July this year. Eighteen provinces have now been declared red zones, with a partial lockdown and stay at home order. The alert warning was also raised across the rest of the country to orange, in all the remaining 59 provinces many of which had previously been green and considered safe.

Deciding to ignore expert warnings, the government allowed the Songkran holidays to go ahead, even adding an extra day. However no mass gatherings or water splashing were allowed.

(Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration which typically lasts 3-4 days, leading to a mass exodus of cities like Bangkok).

Last year, due to Covid-19, the holiday was cancelled. As a result of the holiday this year, a few outbreaks in Bangkok allowed the virus to spread widely. The Bangkok outbreaks centred on entertainment places; restaurant-pubs and nightclubs around the Thonglor area, plus a high-society wedding at a new riverside hotel, whose guest list included a number of government Ministers and prominent business leaders.

The Covid virus from these few hotspots were quickly spread throughout the whole country, as people returned to their homes for the holidays. Unfortunately this was a perfect storm for spreading the virus. Up until this point, since the beginning of the pandemic, Thailand had only recorded 28,889 cases and 94 deaths as at April 1, 2021. Eighteen days later this has risen to 43,742 cases and 104 deaths. An increase in cases of 51%.

During my recent visit to Hua Hin, empty beaches were very much in evidence already with the third wave leading to mass cancellations. Some resorts, previously 70-80% occupied, saw domestic arrivals decimated. Already hurting from a lack of international visitors, this latest outbreak was a most unwelcome guest.

The question of re-opening Thailand to Tourism, starting with Phuket, has obviously taken a knock backwards.

“The key determinant is insufficient vaccines, we are concerned about the re-opening timeline. We still need to discuss the vaccine administration plan. If the herd immunity goal cannot be achieved, we may have to consider opening only certain areas in Phuket”.

However, to continue with the same plan, even with restricted zones, will not be easy as long as the country still has increasing new daily infections, said Minister Pipat.

“Most importantly, we still have to hear from other countries that we already started travel bubble negotiations with about their confidence regarding the same timeline.”

Like Hua Hin, hotels in the North reported cancellations of more than 70% with Chiang Mai a cause for concern and currently experiencing increased coronavirus cases. Prior to the pandemic, the province was a popular destination to celebrate Thai New Year.

Regrettably Minister Pipat is in self-quarantine after being in close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19. The Minster fortunately has already received his first vaccination jab last month (AstraZeneca) and will remain in isolation until next week when all tests are complete (3 swab tests).

ANDREW J WOOD

Andrew J Wood was born in Yorkshire England, he is a professional hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has 48 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is a past Director of Skål International (SI), National President SI Thailand and is currently President of SI Bangkok and a VP of both SI Thailand and SI Asia. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.

The content of this article reflects the writer and does not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of The Thaiger.

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