WAR ON DRUGS
Killings return to haunt Thaksin
Bloody campaign was a crime against humanity, rights commissioner says
Ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his government should be held to account for the systematic killings of more than 2,500 people during the notorious "war on drugs", National Human Rights Commission chairman Somchai Homla-or said yesterday.
"Thaksin and his government committed crimes against humanity," Somchai said at a seminar.
The seminar focused on the violation of human rights in the many cases that the Thaksin-led government labelled as "silence killings", in which small-scale drug dealers were allegedly
being silenced by large-scale dealers.
Somchai yesterday accused Thaksin, former interior minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha and former permanent secretary for the interior Sermsak Pongpanich of issuing a licence to kill to law enforcement agencies during the war on drugs three years ago.
"Thaksin often reiterated that drug sellers would have only two choices - death or jail," said Somchai.
National Human Rights Commissioner Wasant Panich said it was clear that the Thaksin-led government had rushed into the war on drugs and expected the killings to curb the flow of drugs.
On January 14, 2003, Thaksin asked local authorities to draw up lists of suspected drugs dealers.
"But the blacklists were not reliable. Many names should have not been there," Wasant said.
He said the war on drugs then began on February 1 that same year and the government demanded to see clear results within 15 days.
Wasant added that all provincial governors received a circular from the Interior Ministry stating that the number of drug dealers and manufacturers would only be reduced via three scenarios - arrests, extrajudicial killings and death by other causes.
In Samut Sakhon's Ban Phaeo district, people on the blacklist were summoned to report to the authorities otherwise, "your safety cannot be guaranteed".
"We should take action against Thaksin for issuing such a policy, which triggered a wave of murders," Wasant said.
Thaksin was stripped of power through a coup in September.
Somchai said the interim government and the Council for National Security should tackle human-rights violations committed during the Thaksin government.
If they did nothing, the September 19 coup would have accomplished nothing.
Former senator Kraisak Chonhavan said there was solid evidence of human-rights abuses against Thaksin and his government.
Somchai added that the country should ratify the International Criminal Court, which would be able to take action against Thaksin for the alleged crimes.
"If the ratification takes place, Thaksin won't be able to travel around because he will automatically risk being arrested and tried in the International Criminal Court," he said.