The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the draft resolution on the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders, widely known as the “Bangkok Rules,” by consensus.
A report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the adoption was made on 21 December 2010 at the 65th session of the General Assembly in New York.
The Bangkok Rules as initiated by Thailand resulted from the Enhancing Lives of Female Inmates (ELFI) project under the initiative and guidance of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha.
The Rules are intended to supplement the existing standard of the 1955 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners by introducing a female gender perspective. The Ministry of Justice, therefore, developed the draft Bangkok Rules for consideration within the United Nations framework with a view to helping female inmates worldwide to receive proper treatment during their imprisonment term.
Prior to the adoption of the draft resolution on the Bangkok Rules, Thailand has continuously promoted the draft Bangkok Rules among UN Member States through various international human rights and criminal justice fora. This included the event on 6 October 2010 in New York when Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha hosted the reception and presided over the launching ceremony of the ELFI project exhibition, which was attended by several Permanent Representatives of the UN Member States and the UN Secretary-General, as well as UN senior executives at the United Nations Headquarters.
The Bangkok Rules are notable in being the first United Nations guidelines on the treatment of women prisoners, which States can refer to for an improvement of laws and regulations pertaining to female inmates in correctional facilities around the world. Thailand’s initiative on the ELFI project is a testament to its proactive role in line with the country’s human rights pledges and commitments in promoting and protecting human rights of all women prisoners and their babies in the criminal justice system. It also serves to honor Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha whose perseverance and strong support has culminated in the successful adoption of the Bangkok Rules by the United Nations.
Furthermore, the adoption of the Bangkok Rules has been highlighted as one of the successful outcomes of the 65th General Assembly, providing a new set of standards governing the treatment of women prisoners. The Rules cover such issues as the classification of women detainees, health care and safety and sanitation standards in response to the specific needs of women, the appropriate treatment for female inmates’ babies, and the application of non-custodial measures for those who commit minor offences, including young female and pregnant inmates.
Since Thailand is the country which initiated the Bangkok Rules, it is imperative that women prisoners in Thailand should also be the first to benefit from the Bangkok Rules. Hence, Thailand will seriously encourage the implementation of the Bangkok Rules in correctional facilities throughout the country, which would also serve as a good model for other countries. Thailand will also widely promote and support the implementation of the Bangkok Rules for the benefit of female inmates around the world.