Thailand plans to show about half its prisons into vacationer sights to spice up customer numbers because the Southeast Asian nation struggles to get well from an financial hunch brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
Sporting occasions, artwork exhibitions, cooking contests and souvenirs made by inmates will probably be rolled out in 72 of the nation’s 143 prisons, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin mentioned this week.
A pilot scheme is being examined in 5 prisons, together with these within the cities of Trat, Rayong and Ratchaburi, he mentioned.
This could not solely carry much-needed guests, but in addition put together inmates for a “regular life in society” and alter the picture of prisons from being “a twilight world to a world of alternatives”, he added.
The idea of jail tourism shouldn’t be new. From excursions of Alcatraz in San Francisco to the infamous Hoa Lo jail in Hanoi that’s now a museum, prisons are main sights worldwide.
Some defunct prisons have even been transformed into luxurious motels, whereas a girls’s jail in Colombia has a restaurant run by inmates, and a Singapore jail hosts an annual charitable run.
However luring vacationers with out addressing elementary considerations about Thailand’s jail system, together with overcrowding and the big variety of girls inmates, is “not acceptable”, mentioned Debbie Stothard, founding father of Altsean, a human rights community.
“It’s a good suggestion if it’s meant to provide prisoners extra expertise and assist them combine into society,” mentioned Stothard.
“However it must be a part of a broader rights-based strategy to reform the system,” she instructed the Thomson Reuters Basis on Thursday.
Thailand has the biggest jail inhabitants in Southeast Asia, and inmates have restricted entry to medical services, meals, water and sanitation, in line with a 2017 report by the Worldwide Federation for Human Rights.
A 2017 regulation was geared toward bettering jail circumstances, and Thailand’s Justice Ministry has vowed to ease overcrowding, in addition to present vocational coaching for prisoners.
The tourism challenge is part of this plan, Somsak mentioned.
Thailand’s tourism-dependent economic system has taken successful from the coronavirus, with solely about eight million guests anticipated this 12 months, a fifth of final 12 months’s complete.
However driving guests to correctional services shouldn’t be the reply, though Thailand has efficiently turned the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Tarutao – which have been as soon as prisons – into common vacationer spots, mentioned Stuart McDonald, co-founder of web site Travelfish.
“It raises vital considerations across the sensitivity of what’s made obtainable to the general public, and the way the rights and privateness of prisoners could be protected — for example, would they’ve a alternative to not take part?” he mentioned.
“Prisons ought to be working to rehabilitate prisoners no matter any potential tourism attraction wrapped up within the course of.”
(This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. Solely the headline has been modified.)