Pubdate: Mon, 23 Jul 2007
Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)
Copyright: The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2007
Author: Anucha Charoenpo


The Justice Ministry is setting up a special committee to study the
Thaksin government's war on drugs and its impact on innocent victims,
so that proper financial help can be extended to them and their families.

Deputy justice permanent secretary Charnchao Chaiyanukij said the
secretary-general of the Office of the Prime Minister sent a letter to
the ministry last week instructing it to set up the committee.

Mr Charnchao said the ministry had invited former attorney-general
Khanit na Nakhon to chair the panel.

The cabinet would soon be asked to approve his appointment.

Mr Charnchao was assigned by justice permanent secretary Jarun
Pukditanakul to set up the committee.

He said the past government should have done more for the victims by
offering them or their families fair compensation, along with
rehabilitation for those who survived the anti-drugs campaign.

Working guidelines have already been drawn up for the committee. The
panel will focus on studying in depth the Thaksin Shinawatra
government's anti-drugs policy, in which more than 2,500 suspects lost
their lives.

The committee will look at and take into account related documents
before organising forums to gather public views on the matter,
particularly about the killings.

The panel will not investigate the cases already being handled by the
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Royal Thai Police

He said the work should take nine or 10 months.

The committee will report its findings and suggestions to the
government for further consideration and action.

Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairwoman of the Working Group on Justice for
Peace, said she welcomed the government's latest move.

However she was sceptical about whether the inquiry would receive any
cooperation from law enforcement agencies, particularly police, who
were suspected of having a hand in most of the killings.

Ms Angkhana, wife of missing Muslim lawyer Somchai, urged the
government to speed up its investigations into the drugs-related
murders if it wants to see them wrapped up within its tenure, so the
wrongdoers can be punished.

The Thaksin government had set up a committee headed by then deputy
attorney-general Praphan Naikowit to look into the drugs-related
killings, but none of the cases was solved.

The coup-appointed government of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has
revived some of the cases and ordered the DSI to re-investigate them.
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