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Thailand: Army drug rehab plan sparks rights concerns

29 January 2024
Poramet Tangsathaporn
The Bangkok Post

Gloria Lai, regional director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, also raised concerns over the government's decision to open drug rehab in the country's military camps. Ms Lai said Thailand has a history of violence and abuse related to drugs, and it still continues. Much violence and abuse, perpetrated by both military and law enforcement, took place during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration after he announced a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. The military are not health experts and should not be involved in the delivery of health services to the public, she said. "In addition, you have seen concerns of violence, including extrajudicial killings," she said.

"So, I think it is inappropriate for the military to take a bigger role, particularly in the provision of drug treatment services. "If the proposal is for the military to take over more work, strong justification as to why that is necessary will be needed," she added.

Ms Lai praised Thailand's efforts to reduce harm under its new Narcotic Codes. However, she said she is concerned compulsory treatment is still in place for people who use drugs.

"I think harm reduction, if you are going to make it voluntary, means you have to allow people a degree of freedom and liberty to choose what they like," she said.

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