Thailand considers capital punishment for serious corruption cases

death-penaltyThai public servants officially convicted in corruption cases involving more than 1 billion baht ($28 million) could face the death penalty under a proposal approved by the National Reform Steering Assembly, the agency tasked with reforming the junta-led country’s legal and political system and exercise a checks-and-balances system in the country in lieu of democratic structures, on January 8.

The proposal includes another passage that those who were found guilty in cases with damage between 100 million ($2.8 million) and 1 billion baht could face life in prison. In both cases, the sentences may not be suspended or reduced. 

Of the 162 steering committee members present at the respective, 155 voted in favour of the measure while the rest abstained.

The proposal must now be presented to the Cabinet, Parliament and then to Thailand’s Constitution Committee before it is adopted. The whole process will thus take some time, legislators said.

With the proposal, Thailand in principle follows China where, however, the graft bar for officials to face the firing squad sits at just three million yuan ($433,000). In the past, officials even convicted of accepting bribes totaling 100,000 yuan ($14,423) could have been sentenced to death, although it rarely happened.

The only other countries that presently impose the death penalty for serious cases of corruption are Cuba and Iran.

Interestingly, observes point out that the death penalty for corruption is already in section 18 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which prescribes imprisonment, asset seizure, life imprisonment or death for corruption. Previous legislation even provided capital punishment for officials convicted of bribery, although no official has ever been executed for the crime.

Critics said that the measure would not tackle corruption at its roots and the penalties were “not internationally acceptable.”