Chiefs risk wrath over jail drugs

September 27, 2014


Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya has told prison chiefs nationwide it is their responsibility to stamp out the use of prohibited items, including drugs and mobile phones behind bars.

He was speaking after delivering a policy statement to commanders of 143 prisons nationwide yesterday.

Gen Paiboon said he still adhered to the same policy that every prison across the country must be free of all contraband.

“Even small amounts, say 1-2% of drugs or prohibited items are not allowed in jails. Prisons are not markets,” the minister said.

Prohibited items cannot be brought in to jails if stringent screenings are carried out, he said.

Gen Paiboon stressed that prison officers must do their jobs with integrity and if raids discover prohibited items, the chief of that prison must take responsibility.

“The smuggling of narcotics and mobile phones into prisons is still going on, and this is the problem the administrators [of prisons] must solve,” Gen Paiboon said. “They must make a full effort under huge pressure and expectation.”

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been informed of the problem of prisons being understaffed, with just 1,000 prison staff to cope with more than 300,000 detainees, Gen Paiboon said.

The proposal sent to the primer also includes a salary increase for prison staff and the improvement of high-security prisons.

Gen Paiboon ignored calls for the instalment of mobile phone jammers in prisons, saying his policy is clear in its aim to wipe out mobile phones behind bars.

“If by buying [mobile] jammers, would that mean officers intend to allow phones in the prison?” he said.

Addressing ways he intends to try and stop drug smuggling across borders, Gen Paiboon said a meeting of anti-drug bodies among Asean countries, plus Japan and South Korea, has been held to address the problem.

Citing the discussion, he said drugs are smuggled from Laos and Myanmar and their authorities have tried to solve the problem and suppress the traffickers.

However, their abilities are limited due to a budget shortfall, and that the Office of the Narcotics Control Board may have to help fund the operation under the Asean framework, though the funding may not be substantial.

As the premier will visit Myanmar next week, the relevant information could be discussed to iron out ways to tackle the problem sustainably, he said.

According to Gen Paiboon, as the Justice Ministry was assigned to handle the 196.7-billion-baht budget to tackle drug problems, it will call a meeting next week with every agency concerned, including the Education Ministry and Public Health Ministry, to sound out how the budget should be allocated.

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