CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, despite growing opposition among international organisations and other countries, is strongly supported by the majority of Thai people, according to surveys.
At least four online polls were conducted immediately after Thailand’s first execution in nine years took place on Monday. In every one, the majority of respondents agreed with the death penalty.
The findings came after a convicted murderer, identified only as Thirasak by the Corrections Department, was killed by lethal injection at Bangkwang Central Prison, bringing an end to a nine-year hiatus for executions in Thailand. He was convicted of fatally stabbing his 17-year-old victim 24 times in 2012 and making away with his cellphone and a small amount of cash.
About 2,300 people voted on Kom Chad Luek’s website in response to the question, “Do you agree with execution?” An overwhelming 92 per cent said “Yes” while just eight per cent said “No”.
Nation TV conducted a similar survey at www.nationtv.tv, garnering more than 20,000 votes. Of them, 95 per cent said the death penalty should continue to apply on Thai soil.
A popular Facebook page, Drama-addict, asked whether Thailand should put to death those convicted of extremely grave crimes. More than 124,900 people have responded so far, with 96 per cent or 119,900 of them in no doubt that capital punishment should be meted out to the worst criminals. The poll is open to voters for five more days.
Thirasak’s mother yesterday said her son may have been wrongfully convicted, as he had always maintained that he had not committed the murder.
“That’s why he always refused to plead guilty in court, even though [he knew] doing so would provide grounds for leniency,” she said.
Among those protesting Thailand’s resumption of executions was Germany’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Barbel Kofler. “It is impossible to entirely rule out the possibility of wrongful convictions – with irreparable consequences if the defendant has been executed,” she pointed out, adding that the death penalty was an inhumane form of punishment.
The European Union, meanwhile, said it was opposed to capital punishment under all circumstances.
“The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” the EU said.
That sentiment apparently has little support in Thailand, where threat of execution is often held up as an effective deterrent against committing serious crimes.
More than 86,000 people responding to a poll at Kapook’s Facebook page said they believed the death penalty reduced crimes. Only 1,451 respondents thought otherwise.
Maynart Nantakwang, whose popular author-mother was stabbed to death in a robbery, responded to the aftermath of Monday’s execution by lamenting that so many people were so keen to defend the rights of cold-blooded murderers.
“If laws were more lenient, there would be more innocent victims,” she commented.