Former Philippine senate leader Aquilino Pimentel’s visit to Thailand last week has given a welcome boost to local advocates campaigning against the death penalty. Pimentel was a key figure in a three-year campaign which saw the death penalty abolished in the Philippines in 206. “We find the death penalty an outmoded method of exacting justice…. It is an ineffective method of deterring criminals … and it’s cruel,” Pimentel said at a discussion at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand during his March 7-9 visit to Bangkok. He was speaking several days before Thailand tells the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week why it still implements capital punishment. “It is biased against the poor, the unlettered, the unconnected,” he said, pointing out that majority of death row convicts are poor and have had minimal education,” he told Thai senators, government officers and reporters. Pimentel was in Thailand at the invitation of Amnesty International Thailand to share his experience in campaigning against the death penalty in Philippines with Thai senators, government officials and civil society groups. “Pimentel’s views were very useful particularly with regard to our senators”, said Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, director of Amnesty International Thailand. “They are more open these days to discuss this issue.” Most countries which have abolished the death penalty started with having the political will to changing the law, she said. “We hope Pimentel will inspire our senators and government to move forward and end the death penalty in our country,” she added. As of late last year, 140 out of 192 UN member states have either abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium on executions, according to the secretary-general’s office. In the Asia Pacific, 17 countries have abolished the death penalty, while 14 countries, including Thailand, retain it.
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