HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html US Report Slams War on Drugs
Pubdate: Fri, 27 Feb 2004
Source: Nation, The (Thailand)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Multimedia Group
Authors: Subhatra Bhumiprabhas, Pravit Rojanaphruk


State Dept Says Nearly 1,200 Died in Police Custody

The US State Department's 2003 Human Rights Report on Thailand is
particularly critical of the Thaksin administration's war on drugs.

Released yesterday, the report lists many areas of concern, such as
the role of police, the killing of separatists, and freedom of expression.

When US Ambassador Daryl Johnson was asked by The Nation to compare it
with last year's, he said a key difference was the war on drugs. "If
you want to take that as a judgement, then that's a judgement."

He added that the report, which he said aimed to be balanced, had been
submitted to the US Congress on Wednesday but was not tied to trade
issues or trade sanctions.

The report states that "there was a significant increase in killings
of criminal suspects", adding that there were 1,386 narcotics-related
deaths. "The government failed to investigate and prosecute vigorously
those who committed such abuses, contributing to a climate of impunity."

In February to April, the police made no arrests nearly all 1,228
narcotics-related deaths, leading "many observers to believe police
were responsible for most of these deaths".

The report states that a Thai court ruled the killing of a boy in a
car driven by his mother during the war on drugs - involving three
police - was "accidental and justified".

During the first six months, 1,197 persons died in police custody.
"There were reports that police tortured, beat, and otherwise abused
detainees and prisoners, generally with impunity," the report says.

The report also states that the "routine exoneration of police
officers contributed to a climate of impunity that persisted in
preventing any major changes in police behaviour. It also discouraged
relatives of victims from pressing for prosecution". It adds that a
culture of corruption persists in many parts of the

On freedom of expression, it notes that self-censorship was "common
and vigorous". "There were attempts by the government to curb
journalists or publications perceived to be critical of government
officials or their families
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