Officials at the Justice Ministry are urgently reviewing the detention of up to 100 highly dangerous inmates being held in Thailand’s overcrowded prisons who may need to be treated differently by authorities. Mr Somsak has shown himself to be a reform-minded minister since taking office and has also predicted that the current government will serve out a four-year term despite the current challenging political environment.

Thailand’s Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin has said that his department would help push a measure to castrate rapists if the public supported it and if such a new law could be shown to make Thai people more secure and safer. His comments come as a Democrat MP in the House of Representatives has advocated such a course and a key committee is reviewing urgent action to tackle a rise in sex offences in the kingdom against women. 

Thailand’s Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin offers qualified support to a measure to castrate rapists if it wins approval in the House of Representatives. The measure is being considered by a House committee. It is being advocated by Samut Songkhram MP Rangsima Rodrasmi. The experienced minister from Palang Pracharat has been seen as a prison reformer and has recommended laws to control rapists and dangerous offenders after their release. It comes after a convicted serial killer released from prison by the parole board was rearrested by police on December 18th in connection with a new murder. 50-year-old Somkid Pumpuang (left) is one of up to 100 dangerous inmates who the minister believes must be treated differently.

Thailand’s Justice Minister has gone on the record to say that he would support measures to castrate rapists either through surgical or chemical procedures if such a measure was pushed through the House of Representatives.

However, the minister himself seemed to emphasise a measure where convicted rapists and murderers would be confined to a specified area and made known to authorities after their release from prison as a more effective measure to counter the growing concern in Thailand following a spate of violent attacks perpetrated on women including the elderly in the last year.

Castration law call from Samut Songkhram MP

The push to castrate convicted rapists has come from Rangsima Rodrasmi who is the Democrat MP for Samut Songkhram in the House of Representatives. Thailand’s lower house has set up a special committee to formulate new measures to target those committing sexual offences.

Atrocities and crimes in 2019 have shocked the public

The renewed calls are coming after a year which has seen a number of atrocious crimes and also concern over Thailand’s prison system which saw a dangerous serial killer released by the parole board after qualifying for consecutive reductions in his sentence.

55-year-old Somkid Pumpuang was recaptured by Thai police on December 18th but the only after being linked to a fresh murder case.

He had served 14 years in jail and police considered it fortunate that he was captured so soon describing him as a smart adversary who was very difficult to arrest in 2005.

Justice Minister highlights the need for urgent reform of Thailand’s hugely overcrowded prisons 

The Justice Minister has highlighted the need for urgent prison reform in Thailand where prisons are now accommodating 2 to 3 times the numbers they are built for and cannot address properly the question of rehabilitation.

The Minister has said that there are up to 100 highly dangerous individuals like Mr Somkid in the prison system who need to be treated differently both inside prison and outside including possible segregation from the general prison population and monitoring after they are released.

Minster would help push castration measure if passed by the House of Representatives with public support

On the proposal to castrate rapists, Mr Somsak said that if a majority in the House Of Representatives agreed that legislation could be passed, the measure could be introduced. He also added the proviso that such a change would require the support of the public. He said that his ministry would work to push such a reform if it provided for more security and safety to the population.

Need to monitor and control dangerous offenders

Mr Somsak again, however, emphasised the solution of monitoring known sex offenders and all dangerous criminal released from prison calling for a controlled regime and the legal ability to allow police to lift such individuals from society and send them back to prison if they present as a threat to the public.

The minister also said that the whereabouts of rapists and murderers should be known and he was ready to push for such a law similar to Meghan’s law in the United States.

The proposal to introduce castration for rapists and the minister’s serious consideration of such a measure has predictably drawn fire from human rights groups in Thailand.

Human rights director criticises the proposal

One of those objecting was Chadej Chaowilai, the director of the Women’s and Men’s Progressive Movement Foundation.

He was critical of recent legal moves to narrow and curtail the definition of rape in Thailand such as the removal of objects and other parts of the anatomy used by perpetrators from the definition of the offence. Such crimes are now reclassified as sexual abuse or assault in Thailand.

He also decried the failure to extend provisions to the LGBT community.

Inertia in Thailand’s law enforcement agencies regarding the prosecution of sexual crimes

The rights activist also pointed to the inertia in Thailand’s law enforcement apparatus where many police officers are more likely to refuse to accept complaints from women when it comes to rape and insist on mediating outcomes as an alternative.

Mr Chadej blamed this on chauvinism and not enough female police officers.

Human rights lawyer blames chauvinism

This issue was also taken up by Somchai Homlaor, a Thai human rights lawyer, who said that the problem of rape and violence towards women in Thailand cannot be solved by using violence on those convicted of the crime.  He also asked what would happen to those framed or later found to be wrongly accused or convicted of the crime?

He said it would take a new understanding in a society which seeks to avoid discrimination and eliminates chauvinism to ultimately bring the problem under control.

Justice Minister – government will serve a full term

The justice minister, a former industry minister from the influential Sam Mitr group within the Palang Pracharat Party who crossed the political divide in Thai politics, has also gone on the record to suggest that the current government will run a full four-year term.

He suggested that a cabinet reshuffle at some point may be likely and that such a move will help stabilise the government.

Future Forward poll boost – inconclusive

Asked about the opinion polls before Christmas which showed strong public support for Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as prime minister and a surge in support for the Future Forward Party, he noted that such survey could not be considered as conclusively factual.

Further reading:

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Prison guard gets life for attempted murder as Thai top brass crack down on prison corruption and ill discipline

Irish man left UK woman asleep on the ground in Ko Phi Phi where she was later sexually assaulted

Tragedy of a 13-year-old Muslim girl who died on Friday in Bangkok shows need for more women police