HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html PM Launches New Round In
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Apr 2005
Source: Nation, The (Thailand)
Copyright: 2005 Nation Multimedia Group


Human-Rights Activists Fear Another Spate Of Extrajudicial Killings

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday launched a new round of the 
"War on Drugs", sparking fears that drastic action could lead to another 
wave of extrajudicial killings and further tarnish the country's standing 
on human rights.

"We will pay extra attention to former convicts and drug suspects who have 
had arrest warrants issued against them," Thaksin said, as representatives 
from relevant agencies gathered to hear his anti-drugs policy.

Thaksin said the first "War on Drugs" was the government policy that the 
public was most happy with during the last administration. The new 
crackdown will last from this month until June.

"And as long as I am the prime minister, the scourge of drugs will never be 
able to frighten people again," he said.

Human right activists day expressed concern yesterday over the new "war", 
saying the government had not yet answered questions over extrajudicial 
killings stemming from the last crackdown.

Up to 3,000 people died in the first round of the war on drugs, from 
February to April 2003.

Many countries, including the United States, strongly criticised the 
campaign and called on the government to explain the high death toll.

Thaksin yesterday instructed authorities to get serious about eradicating 
illicit drugs and told senior officials to transfer subordinates who fail 
to perform up to scratch.

He urged the Metropolitan Police Bureau to step up its fight against drugs, 
saying illicit drugs were available again at entertainment venues in the 

Thaksin said narcotics traffickers were currently avoiding the Thai-Burma 
border due to the heavy presence of anti-drug officials, and were now 
sending drugs into the country via Laos and Cambodia.

"Stop them [drug dealers]. Don't fear anyone. The government will protect 
you," he said.

Thaksin said anti-drug officials in charge of Thai-Burma border zones 
should share their experiences with their counterparts at other border 
zones so that they can prevent the flow of drugs into the country.

According to the premier, the Office of Narcotic Control Board (ONCB) will 
monitor each agency's performance.

"I will consider rewards for the successful agencies, especially those 
managing to nab major drug traffickers," Thaksin said.

ONCB deputy secretary-general Chatchai Suttiklom said his agency was 
expecting to reduce the number of drug abusers across the country to less 
than 60,000 by June and would make the country drug-free by the end of the 

"We will put drug abusers in drug-rehabilitation programmes. If they return 
to their drug habit after that, we will catch them and send them to jail," 
Chatchai said.

The ONCB was co-operating closely with Lao and Cambodian authorities, he 
said, and the three countries were united in the fight against the illegal 
drug trade.

"Their [Laos and Cambodia] situation is like us in the past. Drug abusers 
also serve as small-scale drug pushers because they want money to pay for 
their drug habit," he said.
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