Drug woes 'need new approach'
Thailand should adopt an integrated approach to tackle the problems of drug abuse and addiction, Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana says.
Strategies to solve the problems need to be adjusted, Mr Suwaphan said, adding legal measures alone would not solve the drug scourge.
He was speaking at a meeting in Bangkok Thursday which he chaired to discuss social measures to help curb the impacts of drug abuse and addiction on communities.
The meeting was aimed at solving the problem of overcrowded jails and preventing an increase in methamphetamine use. Thailand has one of the world's highest prison population rates and about 70% of prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related offences, he said.
The session was attended by officials including permanent justice secretary Chanchao Chaiyanukij and the president of the Supreme Court Veerapol Tungsuwan.
Drug abuse problems are diverse, Mr Suwaphan noted, saying they can cause family and social issues, health problems, economic problems, or serious legal issues. Several measures must be implemented to deal with drug problems and they must be applied simultaneously, Mr Suwaphan said.
He said Thailand should place greater emphasis on social measures. This can be done by educating members of the public, particularly vulnerable teens, about the negative impacts of drugs on communities, he added.
He also urged parents to build strong relationships with their children and locals to create bonds between community members as this can help reduce the harm caused by drugs.
Mr Suwaphan said Thailand should put in place specific approaches that fit the Thai social context to deal with drug abuse.
However, legal measures, penalties and crackdowns are still needed, Mr Suwaphan said. The government has reformed the drugs law to deal with abuse and addiction.
One change, passed by the Legislative Assembly in its first reading last October, aims to make the punishment better fit the crime.