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Thailand and UNODC celebrate the promotion and protection of human rights of women prisoners

Bangkok (Thailand), 22 April 2011
- On 4 April 2011, the Ministry of Justice of Thailand organized a high profile diplomatic reception to celebrate the success of the Enhancing Lives of Female Inmates (ELFI) project, the "Bangkok Rules" and the launch of Thailand's Institute of Justice (TIJ) in Bangkok. In particular, the reception honoured the ELFI project which under the guidance of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajarakitiyabha Mahidol proved to be a key driver behind the adoption of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders in December 2010, frequently referred to as the "Bangkok Rules".

Thailand takes great pride in having realized the vision of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, whose personal commitment and advocacy is to improve the outcome for offenders, especially women prisoners. The ELFI project is a testament to the country's commitment in promoting and protecting the human rights of all women prisoners and their babies in the criminal justice system.

Given the long standing and excellent collaboration between Thailand and UNODC, Mr. Gary Lewis, Regional Representative for East Asia and the Pacific was invited to participate in this event and to deliver remarks on UNODC vision vis-à-vis the Bangkok Rules.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Lewis expressed his sincere congratulations to the Royal Government of Thailand. He acknowledged its crucial role in the development of the Bangkok Rules and for taking the leadership within the international community. He went on to express UNODC deep appreciation to Her Royal Highness, Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol stating that: "Her Royal Highness has shown strong, personal commitment to the issue of improving the conditions of women in prisons and her voice has been a tireless and inspirational force advocating for the development of the Bangkok Rules."

Although the adoption of the Bangkok Rules by the General Assembly marks a turning point in the international recognition of women in the criminal justice system, Mr. Lewis reminded the audience that: "We must not rest here. We must turn our energy to implement the Bangkok Rules as we design our policies, strategies and programmes. This is the task ahead."

In closing, Mr. Lewis recognized the importance of the newly established Thai Institute of Justice, conceptualized to be a centre of excellence for criminology in ASEAN. He emphasized the need for cooperation to combat transnational organized crime and stressed that: "We must think afresh. And we must act anew. And we must promote cross-border cooperation not only among operational law enforcers, but also those who prosecute and those who administer justice. The Thai Institute of Justice is designed to do all these things and UNODC remains committed to working in full partnership with the Government towards this important goal."