UN drugs agency won’t take stand on swifter executions

February 29, 2012

The International Narcotics Control Board is taking no view on the government’s plans to seek the swift execution of drug traffickers.

The agency says it neither supports nor opposes the death penalty for drug-related offences in countries such as Thailand.

“We are an impartial body and respect the rule of law and jurisdiction of countries,” Thai board member Viroj Sumyai said yesterday.

The agency implements United Nations drug control conventions.

But he said the INCB has urged countries using capital punishment to review the law and make some adjustments to suit their drug situations.

Mr Viroj was speaking at the launch of a 123-page annual report about challenges facing the global legal and illicit drug control situation last year.

Some diplomats and journalists questioned the appropriateness of harsher penalties that might repeat the mistakes of Thaksin Shinawatra’s war on drugs in 2003.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung plans to hasten the execution of drug offenders whose appeals against conviction are rejected and who are awaiting execution on death row.

Pol Gen Adul Sangsingkeo, secretary-general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, said authorities were seeking to shorten appeal procedures in line with the government’s policy to curb drug offences.

Gary Lewis, a representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime regional centre for East Asia and the Pacific, said drug control measures should be expedited within the rule of law.

“For Thailand, we are reviewing all policies concerning drug users and addicts, and how society embraces the drug control problem.

“We are also looking at how the rule of law is upheld in suppression of drug trafficking, and how Thailand is working with other countries,” Mr Lewis said.

He said Thai government officials had reassured his agency that measures were being put in place within the rule of law.

“How drugs users are treated will also be part and parcel of the resolution,” Mr Lewis said.

He said the global situation remained dangerous, particularly in the Southeast Asian region with the surge of amphetamines and methamphetamines on the market.

“In every single Asean country, amphetamine is one of the top three problems, while there is also an alarming trend in opium and heroin use in Myanmar, Vietnam and China,” Mr Lewis said.

But he praised the Myanmar government for cutting poppy cultivation by half.

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