Asean to focus on jobs for addicts

Asean to focus on jobs for addicts

Officials prepare to destroy the drugs in June 2016. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Officials prepare to destroy the drugs in June 2016. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Asean will deal with the narcotics problem by focusing more on healthcare and jobs for drug addicts as part of the bloc's 10-year anti-drug action plan, says Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya.

He was speaking yesterday as he chaired the 37th meeting of Asean senior officials on drug matters in Bangkok.

The 10 countries of the Asean grouping, the Asean secretariat, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes and the US Drug Enforcement Administration attended.

They discussed how Asean countries have been tackling the drugs problem and discuss the region's new anti-drug plan for 2016 to 2025.

Gen Paiboon said the plan is not moving in the direction where narcotics will be wiped out, but instead aims to ensure they cannot pose a problem for member countries.

The plan, he said, will be in sync with the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which focuses on promoting better health and jobs for drug users, amending drug laws and ensuring their enforcement.

He conceded Thailand still cannot afford to adopt all international standards on dealing with drug problems, such as lifting the death penalty or legalising some illicit drugs, though it is trying to meet the UN guidelines.

Other issues likely to get a push include how to deal with the drug production base in the notorious Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.

Gen Paiboon said most of the drugs produced there are methamphetamines. Myanmar and Laos should not be left to deal with the issue alone, he said.

He said meth is made from chemicals manufactured by rich and industrial nations so all countries should take note of the problem, adding they tend to focus too much on tracking down the drugs rather than the precursors.

"In the Golden Triangle, particularly Myanmar, we have to understand the problem of ethnic minorities there," Gen Paiboon said.

In Thailand, doctors will screen drug addicts and treat them as patients. Local authorities under the supervision of the Interior Ministry also will have drug addicts registered.

"Over the past 10 years, we know we have failed and we should try a new method," said Gen Paiboon.

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