Prayut set to bolster powers of ONCB
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he is ready to back an amendment to the Narcotics Code that includes empowering the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) to take the lead in case investigations.
He made the remark while following up on comments he made on Wednesday regarding implementation of the Narcotics Code.
Gen Prayut said controlling narcotics requires cooperation among all sectors -- government, civil society and private groups -- and the matter has been placed on the national agenda.
The implementation of a narcotics code is a key mechanism to resolve the drug issue as everyone knows narcotics pose a threat to families, society and the nation, and that is why illicit drugs must be eradicated, Gen Prayut said.
Narcotics control has improved in many ways but the proposed amendment is necessary to allow ONCB officials to lead investigations in narcotic cases rather than function in a merely supportive role. ONCB investigators also should be empowered to seize drug assets, he said.
The existing code must be combined into a single law to reduce complexity and make it more understandable, Gen Prayut said.
In addition, penalties for drug users will also be revised and classified according to the severity of the offence.
The move will ease congestion in prisons and help offenders start a new life in society.
The government also aims to systemise the Narcotics Code in regards to whether drugs are for medical purposes and as to their economic benefit.
Gen Prayut said he has provided guidelines to state agencies involved in narcotics suppression to set a clear direction on the drug issue.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the new Narcotics Code will include drug-arrest rewards for investigators and whistleblowers.
A legal change also would help the ONCB carry out more efficient investigations, Mr Somsak said, adding that officials this year have seized drug assets worth 8.45 billion baht, well on the way to the board's goal of 10 billion baht in seizures for the entire year.