The Fall of the Rule of Law and the Justice System in Thailand

        The Fall of the Rule of Law and the Justice System in Thailand

                 Justice administration can be identified as 1. Ancient State and 2. Modern State. These two are radically different by their systems and aims. Ancient State is like a dictatorship in which its power begins from the establishment and absolute power. Its justice administration is subjectivity. Justice depends on the government that also serves as an overseer.

            In other words, it is the government of man which all power is in the hold of a single entity. This system offers a quick and absolute approach suitable for colonization and spreading power. The leader should be rigorous and hardened. If they have weak-will, the state will become weak too.           


            In modern times, equality and justice are what everyone has rights to get hold of. The government has to administrate lots of citizens ,thus justice is equality leading to the revolution from dictatorship to democracy. When there are lots of people, a new system emerges from ancient state to modern state. Laws are used to restrict and control the government. Therefore, good laws lead to good systems and foundation. Thailand faced a radical change from absolute monarchy to democracy. The latter became muddled by monarchy’s hidden agendas that have plagued Thailand for many decades.

The initial change was made by an order composed of citizens and army officers called “People's Party” on 10th December 1932 from the revolution. However, Thailand saw a lot of coup d'etat since the change. The latest act was in 2013, the thirteenth time of the coup d'etat.

            From 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by Prayuth Chan-ocha caused upheaval and unrest among Thai citizens. Consequently, criminal justice in Thailand suffered a lot according to the ranking by the World Justice Project. [1] There was quite a gap of equality and a myriad of problematic issues. The stat of due process of law in Thailand was below the world standard and gradually diminished since 2014 at 42%. In 2015, it was at 35%, and the trend continued to 2017 at the slightly higher rate, 38%.

            People demanded to know whether the fall of the justice system was from the law itself or abuse from the enforcers which was not in accord with constraints on government powers. It had effects on power administration and fundamental rights of every citizen. From the survey in 2013, people had fundamental rights at 66%. After the 2014 coup, it had fallen eventually to its lowest point at 47% in 2017.

            Thailand was classified as one of the countries that suffered from declining rule of law like Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Turkey, and Nigeria while communist countries such as China and Russia are among the countries that have improved rule of law.

            The 2017 constitution reformation had guidelines for reformation in many areas. One of them was the reformation of the justice system, investigation process, and police authority which suffered from delays. The main point of restoring rights for people cannot start without rule of law. The current situation is far from the ideal solution due to the recent coup that returned Thailand to the ancient state. People had no right to question authority and freedom of speech. The absolute power belongs to the leader of NCPO.

            Denying different points of view led to the assumption that rule of law was obviously restricted. Democracy cannot fully function when the government and justice depend on a single entity. Legal state is always with democracy resulting in a democratic state which is not the current state of Thailand.

           Thai people rarely speak up for their fundamental rights when the government threatens them due to lack of access to the justice system. The justice process demands high costs and expertise which are not easy for normal citizens. Democracy in Thailand is at risk due to its undeveloped state and lack of equality in general. The government from an election cares for people due to its concern about their fanbases. The government from a coup rarely satisfies citizens because these people think they are by far superior.

                  When the justice system is unequal, it affects the system on the whole, risking further corruption due to inability for internal inspection. Corruption greatly damages funds for the country like the fund for corrections that can be used for rehabilitating criminals. The rehabilitation process requires extra care and funds which are not adequate in Thailand. We need support from the government for more success in rehabilitating people to welcome them back to society. While the repeat offense rate in Thailand is not high like other countries according to stats from the Department of Corrections. In 2016, there were 62,117 from the total number of convicts at 261,687 which was 23.74%. [2] The overpopulation in prison showed that the law was not that sacred, and people lacked discipline and respect for the law and other people. Some of these criminals rarely thought about the risks and consequences. Going to jail is such a trivial matter, and they would be back for good in just a nick of time. They were willing to commit more serious crimes. In 2014, Thailand was ranked at 7th for most crime cases in ASEAN. [3] The first was Malaysia, and Vietnam was second place.

               In March 2018, there were 334,279 prisoners according to the survey by the Department of Corrections. [4] Most of them lived without being classified by their crimes. Living with others in a prison is like going to a school for criminals. These places taught them to commit new crimes rather than new skills for future opportunities. The research at Mahasarakham about repeat offenders in its prison showed that the most crucial factor that led to repeat offenses were financial problems. Some had no money to feed off their families while others were jobless and unskilled. [5]

            To fix these issues, the first step should be improving the prison system by sorting out offenses into groups. Then, rehabilitate them by case, offer regular mental health checkups, and seminars for prisoners. Next, their individual struggles should be fixed up because not everyone needs skill classes and career training. Some just need mental health support or treatment that really soothes their inner conflict.

               Another research that compared three states in the USA, Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio, revealed that education was related to reduced offenses. When prisoners leave with proper education or skills, they tend to find new jobs and refuse to commit crime again. [6]

            These problems about the justice system can be fixed by law research, law making, and proper testing before using them. Reforming outdated and unjust laws and increasing severity in laws for serious offenses would help create more balanced laws. Promoting ethics and vocation for newer generations of citizens along with engraving empathy, compassion, and vigilance will help these matters too.

            People shall protect their rights and others for better society. Boosting harmony and camaraderie among the communities can lessen chances of committing crime. In order to rehabilitate, the focus should be about individual issues that need proper treatment and full support. Then, the repeat offense rate will gradually decrease.

           When there is equality and justice, democracy can finally prosper, and rule of law will fully function. Sharing opinions, arguments, and leading the country to success cannot depend on one person. Giving power to people is the most important thing in governing the country. The government should exist to serve all citizens with harmony and respect. It has no right to ignore pleas from citizens or damage freedom and fundamental rights.


[1] World Justice Project.World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2016.[Online].2016.Available from :https://worldjusticeproject.or...14]

[2] Department of Corrections.Stat Report of Detainees.[Online].2017.Source: April 2018]

[3] 247 Magazine.6 Dangerous Stats Revealed Thailand Becomes More Dangerous Place.[Online].2017.Source: [14 April 2018]

[4] Department of Corrections.Stat Report of the Imprisoned Through Thailand.[Online].2018.Source: April 2018]

[5] Sarakham

[6] Steurer, Stephen J.; Smith, Linda G.

Education Reduces Crime: Three-State Recidivism Study. Executive Summary.[Online].2013.Available from :]

บันทึกนี้เขียนที่ GotoKnow โดย  ใน Trynh Phoraksa(Ph.D.)-Criminologist

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