Ruth Dreifuss, Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and former President of Switzerland, is on a brief visit to Thailand to meet with the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister of the Interior and the Governor of Bangkok, to exchange views and experiences on drug policy.

After having also visited the Ozone Foundation and listened to members of other non-governmental organizations that offer treatment and harm reduction measures, Ruth Dreifuss met today with members of the press at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. At this event, she presented the recent report of the Global Commission, Advancing Drug Policy Reform: a new approach to drug decriminalization, and expressed her hope that Thailand would make important steps toward implementing such an approach.

Early this year, the government of Thailand decided to reform its drug laws, by lowering the penalties for drug use and possession and opening a debate on ending compulsory treatment for people who use drugs, as well as more effective ways to address methamphetamines.

Ruth Dreifuss said, “Drug policy in Thailand is, on the one hand, a model for the way it developed alternative economic perspectives for farmers, resulting in a peaceful eradication of the illicit cultivation of poppies. On the other, it has employed repressive policies that have had negative consequences for people who use drugs and their communities, producing prison overcrowding and spreading the HIV/AIDS epidemic, without reducing the presence of drugs. The Global Commission fully supports the Government of Thailand’s initiative to open the debate and consider more effective measures in preventing social and health harms, measures aligned with the principles of proportionality, dignity and human rights.”

The report Advancing Drug Policy Reform: a new approach to drug decriminalization details the destructive and harmful consequences of the punitive approach to drug policy. It shows how ending punishment does not mean encouraging or condoning the use of drugs, but rather it empowers individuals and communities, promotes better prevention and easier access to treatment, and builds confidence between the State and the citizens.

“On this visit, I hope to contribute, by sharing my experiences and those of my colleagues at the Global Commission, to the current debate on defining appropriate drug policies that are adapted to the particular environment and needs of Thailand,” said Madam Dreifuss.

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