EU and rights activists condemn Thai executions

The European Union and human rights activists have condemned the recent execution of two convicted drug traffickers in Thailand — the country’s first use of the death penalty in six years.

The EU said it “deplores” the executions of Bundit Charoenwanich, 45, and Jirawat Phumpruek, 52, by lethal injection in Bangkok’s Bangkwang Prison on Monday.

The deaths “mark the end of a near six year-long de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Thailand”, said the statement released late Wednesday.

The bloc urged the Thai government to abolish the use of capital punishment, which it opposes “in all cases and under all circumstances”.

The drug traffickers, who were convicted on March 29, 2001, were reportedly only given 60 minutes’ notice before their executions, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

“As country after country abandons its use of judicial state killing, the resumption of executions in Thailand is a major step backwards,” said Donna Guest, deputy director of Amnesty’s Asia Pacific programme.

Although Thailand has continued to hand down death sentences, the last executions took place in 2003, when four people were executed by lethal injection. Before this, Thailand carried out executions by shooting.

In the last 10 months, Burundi, Togo and the US state of New Mexico have abolished the death penalty, Amnesty said, while the UN General Assembly has voted “overwhelmingly” for a moratorium on executions.

“The government of Thailand must join the international trend away from capital punishment,” the rights group added.