Britain has asked Thailand’s Department of Corrections to ensure that prison inmates are provided with basic rights under international standards, department director-general Pol Colonel Narat Sawettnan said yesterday.
Narat said he had assured UK authorities that his agency took care of inmates of all nationalities – including British prisoners – as per Thai regulations and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, or the Mandela Rules.
Narat said that the British Embassy had recently asked his department to prevent suicides and prison breaks while ensuring inmates were provided with a good quality of life and human rights protection as per international standards.
The embassy also sent standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the agency to apply, to help solve corruption and assaults, promote equity and be in line with human rights, he said.
Narat said Thailand had to adjust to apply the international practices and his department would study the procedures and apply them where possible.
He also said Thai prisons currently hold 15,076 foreign inmates, most of whom came from neighbouring countries and were linked to drug crimes.
Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) adviser Natthee Jitsawang, a former Department of Corrections chief, said the department had made a lot of changes to promote inmates' rights, including the improvement of prison infirmary medical care standards to match the rest of the world.
He said inmates were not punished by starving them of food or drinking water, locked in the dark or assaulted. There was a programme to take care of “vulnerable” inmates who were pregnant and stateless inmates were given access to legal aid, he added.
Natthee said the SOPs would have to be adjusted to fit the Thai context and would help boost the work of prisons and clarify doubts or questions.