UN Women and Thailand Institute of Justice strengthen partnership to ensure female victims can get justice

Date: Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Authors: Jessica Onion, Saranya Chittangwong and Hakyung Kang

Bangkok, Thailand — UN Women signed an agreement today with the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) to strengthen their partnership to help women and girls who have experienced abuse and violence secure legal protection and justice.

Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice
Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice

The partnership will focus on joint activities based on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 for gender equality, Goal 16 for peace, justice and security and Goal 17 for building sustainable partnerships. Countries worldwide including Thailand have agreed to try to achieve these and other goals by 2030.

During today’s event, TIJ, a state-established organization, also launched two research publications: ‘Women as Justice Makers: Perspective from South East Asia’ and ‘Towards Gender-Responsive Criminal Justice’.

Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice
Anna-Karin Jatfors, acting Regional Director for UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice

“Despite encouraging progress in Thailand with regards to the justice system and the effort to end violence against women and girls, challenges still remain. Many women and girls remain vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and human trafficking and lack knowledge of the tools available to them, and their legal rights to pursue justice,” said Anna-Karin Jatfors, acting Regional Director for UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Collaboration is key to solutions, she said at the event.

“Thailand Institute of Justice has been proud to partner with UN Women for many years … and today we mark the continuation of our partnership to increase women’s access to justice and strive to end violence against women and girls,” said Kittipong Kittayarak, the Executive Director of TIJ.

Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice
Kittipong Kittayarak, the Executive Director of TIJ. Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice

The event included a panel discussion the challenges women face with the justice system and what the countries of South-East Asia and the region as a whole have done about them. The panel of experts from the justice sector included representatives from UN Women, International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Court of Appeals of Thailand. A representative from the public broadcaster Thai PBS also took part.

Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice
Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice

“We need to approach this issue from three different perspectives — the regional, the national and the local level -- to try to create a space where women aren’t afraid to come to court,” said Alison Davidian, Programme Management Specialist from the Women, Peace and Security programme at UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. She discussed global issues regarding justice for women and the role of the Sustainable Development Goals in enabling justice.

Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice
Alison Davidian, Programme Management Specialist from the Women, Peace and Security programme at UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Photo: Courtesy of Thailand Institute of Justice

On increasing women’s access to justice in Thailand, Suntariya Muenpawong of the Court of Appeals of Thailand said: “More efforts have to be made collectively, for instance among female judges. A common platform for police officers, prison commanders and judges for creating collective discussion and efforts will be necessary.”

In 2017, UN Women and TIJ worked together to build up the capacity of criminal prosecutors through information campaigns and research for policy recommendations. In 2018, UN Women and two other United Nations agencies published a joint study, ‘The Trial of Rape: Understanding the criminal justice system response to sexual violence in Thailand and Vietnam’. It said discriminatory attitudes and practices – including by prosecutors, judges and police -- block assault victims at every stage of the justice process from initial reporting to trial. This past January, UN Women partnered with TIJ and the Office of the Attorney General to hold a Training Workshop on Criminal Justice Processes on the Protection of Women for prosecutors in Thailand.