HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Thai Drugs Killings Condemned
Pubdate: Fri, 14 Feb 2003
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2003 BBC


Thai Police Are Accused Of Operating Outside The Law

Human rights groups in Thailand have condemned the high death rate in 
recent anti-drugs operations.

The police crackdown began on 1 February, and so far more than 350 people 
are reported to have been killed and 9,000 arrested.

The human rights group Amnesty International told the BBC Thai service it 
had grave concerns about any extra-judicial killings, saying they were only 
justified in cases of self-defence.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters that only 13 suspects 
had been shot by police, and that violence within drug gangs was 
responsible for the rest.

But Amnesty's Srivak Philat said the police had committed human rights 

They should "adhere to the rules that people are innocent until proven 
guilty", he said, adding that "only the courts can pass judgement."

Mr Thaksin brushed off the criticism, saying: "The government is firm in 
its policy. Whoever wants to criticise, let them criticise."

The campaign was part of an initiative led by the prime minister, who came 
to office two years ago promising to rid Thailand from the scourge of drugs.

But he has largely been unable to stop the flow of millions of highly 
addictive methamphetamine pills from Burma, which are widely used in 
Thailand by people of all ages.

Thai police say they are bracing themselves for a billion pills from Burma 
alone this year.

There are thought to be at least a million methamphetamine addicts in 
Thailand, which is known locally as "ya-ba".
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