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The Kingdom of Thailand, established in the mid-14th century, is a constitutional monarchy, and it comprises 76 provinces. Its capital is Bangkok. The unified Thai kingdom (Siam until 1939) was established in the mid-14th century, and it is the only Southeast Asian country which has never been taken over by a European power. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US treaty ally following the conflict. Since January 2004, thousands have been killed as separatists in Thailand's southern ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces increased the violence associated with their cause. The religion is predominantly Buddism is the predominant religion. However, Muslims are the 4.6% of the population and Christians the 0.7%.

Type of System

The legal system is based on the civil law model, with influences of common law. There are three types of first instance courts: general courts, juvenile and family courts, and specialized courts (e.g. the Labour Court, and the International Trade Court). The courts of appeal consist of the Court of Appeal and nine regional courts of appeal. They have jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate appeals from judgments and orders of the courts of first instance, and can hear appeals on both questions of law and fact.

Defendants' Rights

The Constitution was approved on 24 August 2007, and it is the supreme law of the land. Part IV deals expressly with the “Rights in Judicial Processes”. The respect for human dignity, rights and liberties is expressed more than once in the document (Sections 4, 26, 32). In particular, Section 32 forbids torture and other cruel or inhumane means, and Section 289 (5) of the Penal Code provides for heavier punishment of a crime that is of cruel nature, such as the killing of a person by torturing or cruelty. The prohibition of ex post facto laws and the presumption of innocence are also granted in the Constitution, and, the second one, in the Criminal Procedure Code (Articles 165 and 227).


The arrestee has the right to be informed on the reasons of the arrest (Section 83 and 84 of the Criminal Procedure Code), and the pre trial detention cannot last more than 48 hours. However, the accused can be detained up to 12 days before being brought to the court for investigation purposes, (depending on the gravity of the crime, and with permission of the court). During detention, the accused cannot be subjected to torture or other inhuman treatment (Section 7 bis Criminal Procedure Code), and he has the right to meet his lawyer, to have visitors, and the right to receive medical treatment.


Section 40 of the Constitution affirms that each person must have the following procedural rights: right to access to judicial process easily, comfortably, quickly and indiscriminately; right to public trial; right to be informed of and to examine into facts and related documents adequately; right to present facts, defenses and evidences in the case; right to object the partial judges; right to be considered by the full bench of judges; right to be informed of justifications given in the judgment or order. Alleged offenders and accused have the right to correct, prompt and fair investigation and trial, the right to defend their case, the right to examine evidence, and cross-examine witnesses, the right to defend themselves through counsel, the right not to testify against themselves, and the right to bail. Section 39 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code protects the defendant from double jeopardy. The Criminal Procedure Code specifies that the trial, taking of evidence, and the reading of the judgment in a criminal case shall be done in open court and in the presence of the accused unless the law provides otherwise (Sections 172 and 182). Section 226 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that any material, documentary or oral evidence likely to prove the guilt or innocence of the accused is admissible, provided it was not obtained through inducement, promise, threat, deception or other unlawful means. According to the Regulation of the Department of the Public Prosecutor, the public prosecutor has always take into consideration the human rights aspects, when dealing with a criminal case.

Right to Counsel

Section 173 Criminal Procedure Code provides that in case of offenses punishable with death or imprisonment, or if the accused is not yet 18 years old, before the commencement of the trial, the court must ask the accused whether he has a counsel or not, and if he has none, the court must appoint one for him.

The Correction System

The 1936 Correction Act states that the correction officers must refrain from using weapons against prisoners except in certain cases such as a group of three or more prisoners attempt to escape or cause violence. Prisoners who breach rules of discipline receive punishments, such as imprisonment in a sole cell or a dungeon, or to be whipped. Prisoners have different rights such as: a) Education or training; b) Medical treatment c) probation, reduction of imprisonment terms; e) Reside in separation, according to sex, age and type of offenses; exercise and walk outside the cell.

See Criminal Justice Systems Around the World and Legal Aid in ASEAN countries


  • 2009 Prison Population: 212,058, based on an estimated national population of 67.8 million at December 2009. 24.8% are pre-trial detainees or remand prisoners.
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