[ineb] Death Penalty
- Dec. 10, 1999---
The chief executioner at Bang Khwang maximum security prison says he
grows spiritually every time the population of death row is reduced.
Chaowarate Charuboon, based at the prison in Muang district, Nonthaburi,
says every execution gives him food for thought.
Several of the men and women sentenced to death were not born criminals
but in the blink of an eyelid fell slave to an evil power that drove
them to an act they regret all their lives.
"That has taught me that I need to make my emotions my friend, not my
enemy," Mr Chaowarate, 50, says. As a Buddhist, he says he has to find
ways to make peace with his mind.
"I can't say that I just do what I have to do and feel nothing at all.
I don't feel good and I have to have some principles to hold on to," he
Ultimately, he finds comfort in his confidence in the justice system and
his belief in the rule of law and that wrongdoers must be punished.
"No matter how our justice system has been criticised, I trust it," he
says. "I believe the system cannot afford to make mistakes when it comes
to deciding if a person should live or die."This year, 13 of the 52
convicts on death row have been executed, among them the 1st 3 women to
face the ultimate penalty in 20 years.
Mr Chaowarate says the surge in the death row population this year
testifies to rising crime and violence. That 3 of the 13 were women
"I never thought women would end up like that," says Mr Chaowarate, an
executioner for 27 years. "They're supposed to be gentle and kind-
hearted."One had killed a baby so she could stuff heroin into its
stomach to avoid arrest. "Only women with mental impairment could do
that," he says.
Mr Chaowarate, a C-5 Corrections Department official, has tried to keep
himself from the public gaze. He accepts that some people might think he
was selected for the job because they think he is cruel but insists he
is no different from others.
A father of 3, Mr Chaowarate said the nature of his job does not stop
him from leading a normal life and being a family man. He prefers not to
discuss his work at home but when pressed does not go into detail but
reminds his children the law never spares offenders.
"It's important for my kids to understand that their father is a normal
person," he says.
Mr Chaowarate does not believe capital punishment is a deterrent. Only
through co-operation and a determination to create decent citizens can
society be free of crime.
People should ask themselves if they have given others, especially the
underprivileged, access to better education, welfare and opportunity.
"Can we say we did not corner them or give them no choice but to turn to
crime?"When he aims the gun, his expression is blank but his heart aches.
"I'm sad. It would be better if they hadn't done wrong at all," he says.
Even so, he does not believe the death penalty should be abolished as
long as the state was duty-bound to protect life and property.
Growing criticism from human rights groups to death by shooting has
prompted the authorities to consider lethal injection instead. A convict
would be given 3 shots-the 1st to induce sleep, the 2nd to stop
breathing and the 3rd to stop the heart. The process would take no more
than 35 seconds.
But it has not yet been settled if Mr Chaowarate and his team of 2
would have to carry out the injection themselves since this task requires
medical knowledge. Furthermore, doctors and nurses cannot end life.
Whatever method, says Mr Chaowarate, condemned convicts deserve to be
treated with dignity.
An executioner himself must not become emotionally involved, he says.
"We have to do the job with a clear mind and conscience. We must not let
people misunderstand that we are hungry for blood."
(source: Bangkok Post)