The Thai Cabinet recently passed a bill on measures to be taken in lieu of criminal prosecution ("Bill"). If enacted, the Bill will provide alternative solutions for dealing with petty offences. The Bill, passed by the Thai Cabinet in February 2010, is now with the Thai Council of State.
The Bill marks a change from retributive to restorative justice. It focuses on reforming the offender and healing the victim by allowing for mediation and probation measures rather than prosecuting the case in a court of law.
The main aspects of the Bill are as follows:
- Prosecutor has the discretion to request a stay of prosecution and divert the offence to the restorative process
- Offender must admit to the offence and be willing to reform and make reparations
- Injured person must agree to the measures
- Offence must be a petty offence, defined by the Thai Penal Code as offences punishable by no more than one month's imprisonment, or a fine of not more than one thousand Baht, or both
- Does not apply to cases under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile and Family Courts
- The prescription period will be interrupted during the stay of prosecution
- Any witness statements, confessions or facts derived from the stay of prosecution are inadmissible as evidence
- Cases will be settled through mediation and, in some cases, probationary measures will be implemented
- Offence will not be put on the person's permanent record
The Bill seeks to enhance flexibility and efficiency in the criminal justice system by offering solutions aimed at healing and reintegrating, rather than alienating and punishing. If passed, the Bill will reduce the time, cost and complexity involved in adjudicating petty offences, while at the same time upholding justice and, hopefully, reducing the chances of recidivism.