Thaïland: rights group says Thai prisons fall short of world standards

Thailand’s prisons fail to meet international standards, with inmates routinely shackled, stuffed into overcrowded cells and forced to work in harsh conditions, an international human rights group said Tuesday.

Thailand also has the highest incarceration rate in Southeast Asia, jailing 425 out of every 100,000 people, according to the report by the International Federation for Human Rights.

There are more than 260,000 inmates in 148 prisons with an originally estimated capacity of less than 120,000, the report said, with the massive overcrowding forcing the inmates to live in harsh conditions.

Most inmates were convicted on drug-related charges, the legacy of a war on drugs launched by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2003. Under Thai law, possession of heroin or methamphetamine is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The overcrowded conditions are made worse by high turnover among guards, forcing prisons to rely on skeleton staffs, said the Paris-based human rights group.

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