Thaksin's war on drugs

Officially launched in February 2003, Thaksin’s war on drugs was a brutal killing spree that led to the extrajudicial killings of about 2,500 people while thousands more were arrested.

When Thaksin came to power in February 2001, he vowed to tackle the problem of drugs in Thailand full on. Police were told to treat persons suspected of drugs charges as security threats and deal with ruthlessly.

More than 2,000 people were slain in the first three months of Thaksin’s anti-drugs campaign, and yet the Thai public were still behind the war on drugs, despite widespread fear of being shot by the police.

People began disappearing while others went into hiding. Innocent people were killed by mistake, such a nine-year-old boy and a pregnant woman who died within one month of the campaign beginning.

Thaksin said the police were acting in self defense; the police said the deaths were the result of gang warfare. Whatever the truth, people died and methamphetamine is still here today in Thailand. Short of killing all drugs dealers, producers and users you cannot rid a country of drugs. Thaksin tried and he failed.,/p>

Four and a half years later and there is renewed talk about bringing Thaksin and senior members of his government to justice for some of the killings that took place during the war on drugs.

From today’s Bangkok Post:

A three-man investigation believes it can link former premier Thaksin Shinawatra directly to "murders" during the government's 2003 war on drugs.

Human rights commissioner Wasant Panich had this to say:

We believe the committee will likely be able to find evidence and witnesses to link former prime minister [Thaksin] and his associates to these murders as they were the drugs policymakers.

We have key evidence that the permanent secretary circulated a letter to all provincial governors and regional police commanders. The letter suggested three ways to rid drug suspects from the country. They were extra-judicial killings, arrest and death from any cause.

The committee only has the authority to investigate the killings and to report the outcome to the next government with the possibility that it may or may not take legal action against those people involved.

I think it’s highly unlikely that Thaksin will be brought to justice even if the investigation committee finds solid evidence linking the former PM to the extrajudicial killings. The committee has no power.

For a start, Thaksin isn’t even in Thailand, and the way this investigation is set up, it looks like it is going to take years before it can even build a case. It doesn’t sound promising.

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One thought on “Thaksin's war on drugs

  1. Matt I think the reason the junta are pressing this particular charge is because it seems to have struck a chord with human rights groups for obvious reasons. It seems to be getting them more sympathy than the typical corruption charges.

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