Pardon is generally defined as an act of forgiveness to a certain crime that extends to eliminate the sentence attached to it. It is usually an act of grace on the part of the head of the State. In Thailand, a royal pardon is an act of granting pardon to a prisoner who is sentenced by law with a punishment for a crime that he committed.
It may be in the form of unconditional release of the prisoner or through commutation or reduction of the penalty for his sentence. Nevertheless, as it is considered as an act of grace, the royal pardon lies entirely in the discretion of His Majesty the King. Royal Pardon in Thailand is generally granted for medical reasons. Strong and compelling reasons such as the following served also as bases for the grant of the pardon:
If the prisoner is under eighteen (18) years of age;
If the prisoner or any of his close family members is suffering from a terminal illness;
If the prisoner’s health will be at risk if he continues to remain in prison;
If the death of the prisoner will cause his children to be left with no one to care for them.
If there is a strong evidence to prove that there is a miscarriage of justice.
Royal Pardon in Thailand may be granted individually or collectively.
Collective Pardon is usually initiated by the Cabinet who submits to His Majesty a recommendation for the grant of the pardon. The Cabinet will prepare a “Draft” of the Royal Pardon Decree subject to the approval of His Majesty, the King. The prisoner is not required to take any action or part in the process of pardon.
Individual Pardon on the other hand requires participation of the prisoner or any concerned person. Under the Pardon, Commutation and Reduction of Punishment in the Criminal Procedure Code of Thailand, any convicted person or a concerned person who wishes that His Majesty, the King will pardon a certain prisoner may submit a Petition through the Official Channel for a royal pardon. The petition may not only be initiated by the prisoner himself. It may be submitted by concerned persons such as his spouse, children or parents. It may also be initiated by a Diplomatic Representative.
Once the case becomes final for prisoners who were convicted with a sentence other than death penalty, he may then submit his petition either through the Prison Authority, the Ministry of Justice, The Office of His Majesty Principal Secretary, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Embassy of his or her country. Upon receipt of the petition for pardon, the Department of Corrections in turn will submit the same to the Prison Authority for verification of the accuracy of the information contained in the petition. After such verification, the Department of Corrections will submit the petition together with the recommendation from the Minister of Justice. The recommendation from the Minister of Justice contains a proposal for His Majesty to grant the pardon. The Department of Corrections shall notify the prisoner or the petitioner of the result of his petition and shall act on it according to the direction of His Majesty.
For prisoners who have been convicted with a sentence other than death penalty, the petition for pardon shall be filed once the case already becomes final. For prisoners who are faced with death penalty, the petition for pardon shall be filed within 60 days from the date of the promulgation or rendition of the judgment.
However, if the petition is denied, the petitioner should have to wait for a period of two years before he can be permitted to file another.