Deadly serious I

17 08 2021

Readers may recall that the regime’s jailers say that lawyers can’t visit their clients when they are first taken into custody because of virus restrictions and quarantine.

It turns out that being taken into custody coukd amount to a death sentence. But, then, we suspect that the judges who refuse bail or revoke bail and the jailers know this.

The Nation reports that

The Department of Corrections announced on Monday that pro-democracy activists Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree and Sirichai Nathuang have tested positive for Covid-19.

They are among the eight protesters detained in Thanyaburi prison in Pathum Thani early this month and are now under quarantine. All eight protesters underwent a PCR test for Covid-19 on Saturday, while Parit and Promsorn were tested again on Monday for confirmation. Sirichai’s infection was confirmed on Sunday.

All three are said to be “perfectly fine…”.

It seems clear that getting infected in prison is almost guaranteed. Even if infected prior to being taken into custody, being in jail increases health risks for political prisoners.

Ji on courts and prisons

17 02 2012

Ji Ungpakorn has sent out a note that, as we usually do, is reproduced below. For additional general information on prisons, readers might find Thai Prison Life of some use.

Some facts everyone should know about Thai courts and prisons

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Thailand has the 17th highest proportion of citizens in prison in the world, with 340 prisoners per 100,000 people. This compares to 64 for Norway and 94 for France.

1. Thailand’s judiciary only serve the authoritarian ruling elite. They are protected by a draconian “contempt of court” law, much like lese majeste, which prevents citizens or the media from criticising any judges or court judgements. For this reason there is no transparency or accountability in the judicial system. There is also no jury system and Thailand locks up political prisoners who dare to express anti-establishment views.

2. Judges, police and court officials treat the general population with contempt. The poor are usually “guilty” before trial. Often judges do not bother to come into the court and defendants have to speak to the judge through a close-circuit TV. On many occasions judges speak so quietly that defendants and members of the public cannot hear what they are saying or what they have decided about the case. Prisoners awaiting trial are often locked in police vans in the hot sun for hours. Court official create obstacles to granting bail in order to force poor people into buying expensive commercial bail bonds from entrepreneurs. In the case of lese majeste, the general population and the media cannot discuss any case and debate its merits as everything is secret.

3. The basic premise that defendants are innocent until proven guilty is never applied in practice, despite being written in the Constitution. Many defendants, especially in lese majeste cases, are refused bail before trial. The mere accusation that people have “sold drugs”, “are seeking to overthrow the monarchy” or “are terrorists” is enough for mass extra-judicial killings.

4. Defendants in trials are shackled and forced to wear inhuman prison uniforms. It is like the Middle-Ages. This means that they are abused before the outcome of the trial and have to attend court looking like “criminals”. This results in miscarriages of justice. This applies to many cases, including lese majeste trials. In lese majeste trials you can be found guilty even if what you said and wrote was factually true.

5.  There is no genuine debate in Thai society about the role of prisons. Prisoners who are found guilty and locked-up have no human rights what so ever and few people care. The main reason for this is that the Thai ruling class does not even regard ordinary people as “citizens with rights”. They are made to grovel to the rich and powerful and prisoners are treated even worse. So are migrant workers for neighbouring countries.

6. Thai prison conditions are appalling. Often at night prisoners are chained together, 30 to a room, with no proper beds. The toilets are a disgrace, the food is very bad, there are no proper libraries or exercise facilities and the prison guards are totally corrupt. In short, prisoners are treated like animals. Prisoners are also made to work in the streets of Bangkok, digging out filthy slime, by hand, from drain pipes.

7. Thai prisons are full of poor people, mainly on charges related to theft and drugs. There is no discussion about the causes of crime or the need for drug policies which reduce harm. For the rich and powerful, the sons of corrupt politicians and the Generals, all their crimes go unpunished. Politicians and the Military can just shoot down unarmed civilians with absolute impunity. They have done this in 2010, 2004, 1992, 1976 and 1973.

8. Punishment in the Thai judicial system is totally out of proportion. People get just a few years in prison for murder or violence, while lese majeste prisoners are sentenced to anything between 20 and 40 years. Those who commit mass murder of demonstrators and those who stage military coup are rewarded.

That is why the political reforms proposed by the Nitirat Group and those reforms proposed by all those who want to abolish or reform lese majeste are so important today. That is why the old order, including the Peua Thai Government, the Military, and even the UDD leadership, are so opposed to any change. They cloak themselves in lies about “reconciliation”. But “reconciliation” can only start when the mass murderers are sent to trial, the political prisoners released and the judicial system is thoroughly reformed.

Miscategorization of Thanthawut Thaweewarodomkul

1 05 2010

According to recent reporting by Prachatai, Thanthawut Thaweewarodomkul, who has been held in Bangkok Remand Prison for being the webmaster of the allegedly anti-monarchy website NorporchorUSA, has been categorized as a serious prisoner, being held in Zone 8 for those convicted of committing crimes such as murder and assault.

Thanthawut had been assaulted in prison, and has reported that closer supervision by wardens has made him safer.

PPT is very disturbed by the classification. As noted by Prachatai, Zone 8 is for those who have already been convicted of crimes, Thanthawut has not yet been convicted; the prosecution has not even begun. But perhaps this miscategorization can be read as something other than a mistake. Perhaps in Thailand today, those accused of lese majeste are presumed guilty simply as a result of being accused.  Perhaps this miscategorization reflects not a mistake, or oversight on the part of prison officials — but rather the idea that speech is dangerous. It is apparent to PPT that speech has become very dangerous for those who dissent in Thailand. The state apparently thinks so as well, as evidenced by the recent spate of arrests and accusations.

Read the entire article in Prachatai here in English: “Alleged NorporchorUSA webmaster asks to be removed from prison zone for serious criminals” and สำหรับภาษาไทย ดู “ผู้ดูแลเว็บนปช.ยูเอสเอขอความเป็นธรรม ขออยู่แดนแรกรับเหมือนกรณีทั่วไปแทนแดน 8”

Da Torpedo continues to suffer in prison

2 01 2010

According to a report posted on New Year’s Day by Prachatai, Da Torpedo’s dental problems have become more severe.  She is now suffering from a molar abscess. They reported that when she was visited on New Year’s Day by her brother, Kittichai, and members of the Palang Ruam Jai group, that Kittichai “was told by the prison’s Administrative Director that Daranee had been able to drink only milk, because she could not open her mouth wide or chew food normally.” He is now working for her to see a dentist outside the prison, as the prison authorities have been unable — or unwilling — to provide this needed service.

As anyone who has experienced an abscessed tooth before a root canal knows, the pain and discomfort are overwhelming.  Da Torpedo has experienced this pain for months — as the prison authorities have done nothing. Is an eighteen-year sentence for expressing her opinion not enough?

Read the entire Prachatai article here: New Year’s Day 2010, “Da Torpedo’s molar abscess needs treatment outside prison”

%d bloggers like this: