It’s no secret Thai prisons offer less than ideal conditions.
This is an ever-present concern, conversed, and feared among social circles around the country.
Stories from the inside are rampant with affliction and despair. Abuse, disease and unsanitary conditions have stained the already shocking reputation of the notorious “Bangkok Hilton”.
A report, “Behind the walls – A look at prison conditions in Thailand after the coup“, released on Tuesday by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), reiterated the claims of such human rights violations.
The report outlines a picture saturated with distressingly inhumane conditions.
“The claim made by the Thai government that the country’s prison conditions conform with international standards is ludicrous,” FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos said.
“Reforms that seek to ensure prison conditions comply with minimum international standards and place rehabilitation at the core of the penitentiary system are urgently needed.”
Some of the worst concerns listed in the report are a lack of adequate access to medical treatment, poor sanitation facilities, and insufficient food and drinkable water.
The rights groups also found access to health care for pregnant women is low.
According to the groups, these concerns fail to follow United Nations recommendations or uphold the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) narrative to improve prison conditions.
The report also revealed beatings took place on a regular basis and inmates were often shackled.
Additionally, FIDH found prisoners were sometimes tortured for breaking rules.
Thailand has the highest incarceration rate in Southeast Asia, with an occupancy level of 224 per cent, double the intended capacity rating.
Where 425 out of every 100,000 citizens are behind bars, it is not difficult to picture inmates being compacted together in small cells.
The report further illuminated the plight of overpopulated prisons in the country, where 72 percent of inmates are jailed for drug-related crimes.
According to the report, inmates are convinced into labour in severe working conditions with very little pay.
Thailand has recently amended regulations on prisons, but Thai laws still allow for solitary confinement for more than 15 days, as well as shackling – both still violating international standards.
The NCPO had pushed a clean-up narrative which encouraged better days, with better policies adhering to international standards.
Many had hoped prison conditions would improve after the 2014 military coup when the NCPO came to power, but evidently, not much has changed.
“If the degree of civilisation in a society is judged by its prison system, Thailand’s government must be considered cruel and inhumane,” UCL senior adviser Danthong Breen said.
“Authorities must consider prisoners as individuals worthy of substantial rights and ensure Thailand’s domestic and international commitments regarding prison conditions are fulfilled.”