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Thailand Touts Success in Anti-Drug Campaign - 2003-04-30


Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says a controversial anti-drug campaign has eradicated 90 percent of Thailand's illegal drug trafficking.

Thailand's prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, says his three-month anti-drug campaign has achieved remarkable success so far and he says there is more to come. "Up until now we can estimate that we probably eradicate about 90 percent, and by December 2 we definitely will be able to eradicate all drugs here in Thailand, especially the trafficking," he said.

Mr. Thaksin was speaking Wednesday at the end of his controversial campaign to eradicate illegal drugs from the country. Some 2,000 people have been killed, tens of thousands arrested, and thousands more have turned themselves in to the police, fearing for their lives.

The campaign has come under heavy criticism by the United Nations and human rights groups, which fear many deaths may have been extra-judicial executions by the police.

The government says the police killed only 42 drug dealers, mostly in self-defense, and the rest were the results of shootouts among rival drug traffickers.

Mr. Thaksin has shrugged off criticism of the campaign, vowing to continue until all illegal drugs and drug dealers are out of the country. He said the campaign has yet to reach Thailand's more remote provinces, indicating that the campaign will continue.

International drug agencies estimate over one billion tablets of methamphetamines are smuggled into Thailand yearly, along with large quantities of heroin. Over 3 million Thais are thought to be addicted to drugs.

Most of Thailand's drugs come from neighboring Burma. Thailand has accused Burma's ethnic United Wa State Army of producing the drugs and smuggling them across the border.