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II. Recommendations

To the government of Thailand:

Cease and publicly repudiate any policy of extrajudicial killing of criminal suspects.  Royal Thai Police must conduct arrests of criminal suspects using the minimum force necessary, as called for in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.  The Thai government should ensure that the National Human Rights Commission has the necessary resources and authority to fully investigate extrajudicial killings and other serious offenses committed in the context of the war on drugs.  The Ministry of Justice should completely and transparently prosecute all drug-related homicides and release statistics on the status of these prosecutions.  Additionally, the government should invite the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to investigate these killings.

Cease the practice of placing drug suspects on “blacklists” or “watchlists.”  Publicly recognize that the practice of “blacklisting” has been widely abused by local officials to settle scores with enemies and has created pressures to include innocent people on the lists, many of whom have been killed or wrongfully arrested.

Cease arbitrary arrests and other due process violations by Royal Thai Police.Cease all practices of false arrest, planting of narcotics on drug suspects, and use of threats or physical force to coerce confessions of drug activity.  Cease arresting drug suspects on the sole basis of a known history of drug use.  Conduct independent and impartial investigations of any allegations of these activities, and appropriately discipline, discharge, or prosecute officers found to be complicit.  Repeal any policy that encourages law enforcement officers to stop or arrest suspected drug users in order to meet predetermined targets for drug treatment enrollment.

Take concrete steps to reduce drug users’ fear of seeking health services.Immediately and publicly declare that drug users seeking health services will not be penalized or forced into drug treatment based solely on their self-identification as drug users.  Conduct an independent, publicly issued evaluation of the impact of the war on drugs on the health-seeking behavior of drug users, including their access to sterile syringes and other HIV prevention services.  Provide basic training to all police officers on referring known drug users to treatment, HIV prevention and other health services.  Cease any interference with efforts by nongovernmental organizations to reach out to drug users who have gone into hiding during the war on drugs.

Increase harm reduction services for drug users.  Develop a clear national harm reduction policy with the consultation of high-level officials within the Ministry of Public Health, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, and the Prime Minister’s Office.  Establish syringe exchange, methadone maintenance, and other harm reduction programs commensurate with HIV prevention programs for other risk populations such as sex workers and men who have sex with men.  Include harm reduction services in proposals for HIV prevention funding from international donors and funding agencies.  Evaluate the existence of any legal barriers to harm reduction services, such as the use of syringe possession as sufficient evidence to arrest drug suspects, and eliminate these legal barriers.

Urgently establish HIV prevention services in all detention facilities.  Provide information about HIV transmission to all prisoners, pre-trial detainees, and patients in compulsory drug treatment centers.  Ensure that all prison personnel receive training on HIV prevention.  Establish and evaluate pilot projects for the distribution of condoms and sterile syringes in detention facilities, based on best practices from other jurisdictions.  Ensure that all detainees receive relevant information on HIV transmission prior to discharge.  Promptly investigate any allegation of prison guards receiving bribes to smuggle narcotics or drug paraphernalia into prisons, and discipline guards accordingly.

To the United Nations and all international donors to Thailand:

Promptly and clearly denounce human rights violations in Thailand’s war on drugs.  The United Nations has the regional headquarters of its drugs and crime office in Bangkok, and the United States provides anti-narcotics training to the Thai police.  Both should forcefully and publicly declare that they oppose the methods being used in Thailand’s war on drugs, in addition to conducting ongoing monitoring of human rights violations.  If the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations are not fully and independently investigated, each should consider redirecting programs from Thai government agencies to nongovernmental organizations.

Take steps to mitigate the HIV/AIDS impact of Thai drug policy.  Relevant United Nations officials and offices—such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Health, the U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)—should commission an independent evaluation of the health impact of Thailand’s war on drugs, conducted by individuals with expertise in HIV/AIDS epidemiology, drug demand reduction, and harm reduction.  Donors to HIV/AIDS programs in Thailand should call for an independent evaluation of the health impact of Thailand’s war on drugs, call for basic human rights improvements including transparent investigations of alleged extrajudicial executions of drug suspects, and include human rights requirements in any financial assistance they provide directly to the Thai government

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>July 2004