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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Policy
Topics: Drug Policy Reform and Advocacy
Presenting author: Verapun Ngammee
Thailand’s drug policies over-criminalize drug-realted issues and delivers disproportional sentences in drug-related cases. Last week our visit to 2 prisons in northeast of Thailand and we met about 35 prisoners both male and female who bring amount of ATS from 0.5 to 8 tablets cross from Laos to Thailand for their personal use but they got life sentence and a fine of 1-1.5 million baht punishment.
This drug policies focus on criminalization and law enforcement. For every dollar invested in harm reduction and health of people who use drugs, upward of $500 are invested in the criminal justice system to address drug-related issues. Such practices have led to overcrowded prisons. More than 90% of prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related offences, mostly for consumption or small possession. Disproportional sentencing is exemplified by K. Supatta, a famous case documented in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2016, who was arrested with 1.5 tablet of ATS at the Thai-Laos border and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Thousands of productive life-years are lost due to disproportional sentencing of drug-related crimes in Thailand to remove a few hundred pills form the Thai illicit drug market. CSO and people who use drugs need to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, including setting sentencing threshold and designing appropriate drug policies. The National Drug Law Reform Committee is a key mechanism to change sentencing guidelines in Thailand ”
Outcomes and implications
From CSO experience in the Drug Law Reform Committee: Thai CSO still watch dog and influence in all process of current reforms, initiated in 2014. CSO representatives are included in the formal proceedings of the committee and contribute as equal members. The outcomes of the reform process should be formally completed and announced by end of 2016.