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Humanizing Approach for Better Justice

TIJ Public Forum 8th, 23 August 2019

The Rule of Law and Sustainable Development

Introduction

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which built on the principle of “leaving no one behind” and emphasized the holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Goal 16 recognizes that the rule of law constitutes the foundation of and is instrumental to the sustainable development of all nations.

Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) believes “Justice is Everyone’s Matters”. TIJ understands the importance of cultivating the culture of lawfulness in Thailand under the concept that the culture of lawfulness is related to every aspect of human lives. It is an essential part in order to uphold human rights, non-discriminatory practices and equality, all of which lead to the financial, social and political development in Thailand. Without culture of lawfulness, human security will be at risk. 

As a member of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program Network of Institutes (PNIs), TIJ engages with a broad network of people—not only limited to authorities with law-related backgrounds but also users and people affected by law enforcement—in promoting the rule of law and development in Thailand. Thus, the first collaborative effort between the TIJ and the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at the Harvard Law School, the Rule of Law and Development Program (RoLD Program), was launched in 2017 as a platform that serves as a bridge of knowledge and that links individuals to form a network of change makers. TIJ initiates TIJ Public Forum on the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development for leaders, policymakers and academics from various sectors to develop the culture of lawfulness together. 

For year 2019, the 3rd generation of RoLD fellows, class 2019, address prevalent social and legal issues in Thailand under the theme “Humanizing Approach for Better Justice” by focusing on on-the-ground human stories through accounts of people who face difficulties in attaining justice for themselves or Stories of (In)justice in order to reflect the idea that justice is everyone’s matters and to examine problems and to form policy recommendations that are conducive to “hopes” for better changes regarding the 3 following topics.

Stories of (In)justice

1. Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups: Model Standard Operating Procedures for Ensuring that Survivors of Domestic Violence are Protected and Can Get Essential Services (Fast, Fair, and Friendly First Response)

The level of domestic violence is steadily increasing in Thailand, with some cases involving extreme physical violence against women and children and ending in homicides. Victims who endure sustained abuse over long periods of time may develop mental illnesses including Battered Wife Syndrome and PTSD. However, the cycle of abuse doesn’t end solely at long-term mental trauma but leads to deaths of family members or child victims turning into abusers. Furthermore, victims struggle to receive protection and safety, and not necessarily to press criminal charges against their partners as they are pushed to resort to restorative justice measures and settle out of court because domestic violence is still perceived as a personal matter, resulting in returns to abusive relationships.

Without rehabilitation programs for potential abusers, it is difficult to tackle domestic violence and attain the SDGs goals within 2030. Moreover, developing access to justice and social welfare is essential in order to protect legal rights and provide welfare for families affected by domestic violence according to the Family Development and Protection Act B.E. 2562 (FDPA). The new FDPA became effective on 20 August 2019. Pilot projects suggested by the new act include victim-friendly police stations, ethical victim-oriented journalistic practice, respectful, empathic and non-judgmental officers during steps of criminal justice process and provision of care.

Therefore, the model Standard Operating Procedure for domestic violence cases is proposed to that is aligned with the provisions of the FDPA law which is “Fast, Fair, and Friendly First Response” to establish “model police stations” and guidelines for ethical, non-invasive media coverage that respects the human rights of survivors. This Standard Operating Procedure will ensure that survivors will get the help they need from one-stop crisis centers and hospitals. It will ensure they will get justice, not added assaults from the criminal justice system. And it will ensure that their abusers get the treatment and rehabilitation they need if they are to stop inflicting this cycle of violence. 

2. Digital Employability: Creating Human-centered Justice System to Reduce Inequality

Inequality is a complex problem that underpins many of the Thai social problems.  It is a multi-faceted issue affecting quality of life and creating divisions among citizens. Key contributors which perpetuate the cycle of inequality are lack of (i) access to education, (ii) financial support and (iii) knowledge or information, all of which lead to lack of (i) opportunities, (ii) skills and (iii) career choices for underprivileged citizens to attain quality living. 

Furthermore, the wave of digital technology disruption is rapidly replacing jobs in various industries such as manufacturing and agriculture. Despite higher school attendance and higher literacy rate,  those with traditional skills might be left without jobs in the future because their skills are no longer relevant in the new digital economy.  This change in the social and economic ecosystem can aggravate the inequality problem that already exists, making it harder to be resolved.

This project proposes “Digital employability”, a marketplace platform that creates job opportunities for those with limited access to professional skills and financial resources, to help them find jobs which require basic skills while also providing them basic digital literacy skills. By using a marketplace platform to develop digital literacy and digital employability without relocation, this platform can bring about sustainable employment on the condition that all stakeholders, for instance,  (i) underprivileged users, (ii) businesses and (iii) sustainability development officers join in as the challenge of the project is to scale the trainings to reach the maximum of potential users for them to engage on the platform. 

3. Empowering Citizen Participation in Promoting Good Governance within Schools 

Transparency and participation are two key cornerstones of good governance. However, there is a prevalent tendency to equate good governance with the enactment of rules and regulations to ensure transparency in governmental organizations. Lessons from past highlight that transparency-focused efforts alone may not be sufficient in achieving good governance. Technological innovations and social media have revolutionized the way in which citizens interact with their government by providing new and unprecedented opportunities to directly engage policymakers. Social media, in particular, serves as a dynamic platform to empower citizen participation, fosters civic responsibility and enhances community relations. 

In recent years, corruption scandals in Thai public schools have been increasing. Common headlines include embezzlement in school meal programs, bid-rigging in the procurement of textbooks and school supplies, nepotism in school admissions and appointment of personnel. The endemic corruption situation is having an adverse effect on Thai youth, who will be the future leaders of our nation.

This project focuses on underscoring the importance of building a culture of governance within schools through encouraging active participation of students and parents. Our goal is to foster social responsibility and strong community relations and to nurture Thai youth and students to become future leaders in helping to monitor, reflect and take on a leading role in improving the administration of their schools.