Lethal Injections

New Option for Thai Inmates

Bangkok Post, September 9, 2003

Lethal injection will replace the firing squad for convicts on death row from Oct 19, the Corrections Department announced yesterday.

Natthee Jitsawang, the deputy director-general, was unsure when it would first be used.

There were 950 prisoners facing the death sentence with 44 of them, mostly drug offenders, awaiting execution after exhausting all court procedures.

Sixteen of the 44 were appealing to His Majesty the King for royal amnesty.

All condemned prisoners were housed at Bang Khwang Maximum Security Prison, where the facilities for execution by lethal injection had been set up, he said. Three convicts have been executed by shooting this year.

The House of Representatives recently passed amending legislation changing the method of execution after two years of consideration.

The change was proposed by the department after a barrage of criticism that shooting was inhumane.

"Lethal injection allows the condemned to die in peace with no pain or suffering," Mr Natthee said.

Dr Manop Srisubhanthavorn, of Bang Khwang hospital, said the condemned person would be given three injections - the first inducing unconsciousness, the second muscular paralysis and the third stopping the heart.

Death would take five minutes.

Jaran Dittha-apichai, a national human rights commissioner, said he disagreed with all forms of capital punishment. The death sentence should be scrapped.

"Execution isn't the right solution to crime in the society. Life imprisonment is enough for hard-core criminals."

However, lethal injection did seem more humane than shooting.

Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana was worried about the feelings of the executioner. He had proposed using three executioners, he said. Each would push a button, but they would not know who released the lethal drug.

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