Human Rights NGOs to Thai Government: Do Not Repeat History!
February 22, 2011
Ministry of Interior plans to forcibly detain and treat Thai drug users are "dangerous and extremely disheartening given recent progress made in the country on injecting drug use and HIV," according to human rights non-governmental organizations. The campaign will "only serve to undermine those efforts in the long term," Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG) and International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) officials wrote in a letter to the government.
The Ministry is proposing to detain people suspected of "occasional" drug use for seven days, "continuous" users for 14 days, and those showing early signs of drug dependence for 45 days, said TTAG and IHRA. Temporary detention centers will be constructed for the campaign.
"These plans for mass detention and forced treatment raise considerable human rights concerns, especially given Thailand's history of nationwide punitive and ineffective anti-drug campaigns," said the letter, noting the government's 2003 "War on Drugs" claimed roughly 2,500 lives over the course of three months.
Paisan Suwannawong, TTAG's executive director and co-founder of the Thai Drug Users' Network, said the new crackdown "flies in the face of Thailand's 2002 policy, which states that people who use drugs should be treated as patients, not criminals. There is nothing therapeutic about rounding up thousands of drug users and forcing them into military boot camps that fail to provide appropriate services and support," said Paisan.
The government should instead focus its efforts on the implementation of the national harm reduction strategy adopted late last year, including the development of evidence-based and effective treatment models, advocates said.
The Nation (Bangkok)
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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