Parliamentary question by Maurizio Turco (NI), Marco Cappato (NI), Emma Bonino (NI), Marco Pannella (NI) e Gianfranco Dell'Alba (NI) to the Council and to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0812/03 and E-0813/03
by Maurizio Turco (NI), Marco Cappato (NI), Emma Bonino (NI), Marco Pannella (NI) and Gianfranco Dell'Alba (NI) to the Council and to the Commission
(06 March 2003)

Subject: War on drugs in Thailand

Taking into account the fact that according to information on 'UN Wire' of 4 March 2003:
- the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra affirmed that Thailand's month-old drugs crackdown will be stepped up, despite expressions of concern by the UN rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Asma Jahangir, and others over reports that summary executions have been committed in the context of the campaign; he notably declared: 'The crackdown will become more intense, I guarantee... Don't worry. (The) UN isn't my father. If they want to come, come. If they want to inspect, go ahead';
- the Thai Prime Minister also affirmed that more than 1140 have been killed in the crackdown, which began on 1 February and is to last three months; police also said that as of Friday, 29 501 suspects were arrested in the crackdown; they said officers acting in self-defence killed 31 people and that drug gangs killed the others; a Ministry spokesman furthermore affirmed that 'Nothing is above the law in this campaign';
Did the Commission express EU concern to the Thai authorities about the government-sponsored massacres in the war on drugs? Did it ask the government to stop these widespread killings that are contrary to all internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms?
What progressive measures will be enacted by the Commission if the Thai government continues the massacre and ignores international requests to stop?
Is the Commission aware of the fact that, like Thailand, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Kuwait, Iran, Philippines and Indonesia also apply the death penalty for drugs-related crimes, and does it agree that a way forward would be to amend the international conventions on drugs to expressly prohibit the death penalty, notably in view of the April 2003 UN meeting on drugs?

Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(22 April 2003)

The Commission is following closely the Thai Government’s policy of ‘war on drugs’ launched in the beginning of February 2003. The Commission is concerned with the present situation, in particular with reports that a number of drug-related deaths have thus far allegedly been the result of extra-judicial killings.

While the Commission recognises the seriousness and urgent nature of the problem of illicit drugs in Thailand, it feels the problem should be tackled through a balanced approach addressing the demand and the supply sides and conducted in accordance with international human rights standards and the rule of law.

The Commission feels that the Thai Government should conduct transparent and thorough investigations into each death, take urgent measures to prevent the number of deaths from rising further, and co-operate closely with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) on this issue.

In this respect, the Commission and the Member States are addressing the subject of the fight against drugs with the Government of Thailand through the appropriate diplomatic channels.

As regards the death penalty, the Commission follows the specific Union policy guidelines on the subject in its relations with third countries that maintain capital punishment. The Union has on several occasions raised the issue of the death penalty with the Thai Government, as recently as in 2002.

The suggestion concerning possible amendments to the United Nations (UN) Conventions on Drugs to expressly prohibit the death penalty for drugs-related crimes appears difficult to take forward given the nature of International Law and the principle of sovereignty of the States, but also because the Community as such is not a party to these Conventions. It would be up to the States that are parties of the Conventions to propose the modifications they deem appropriate.

This subject was not on the agenda of the UN Commission of Narcotic Drugs meeting which took place between 8-17 April 2003 in Vienna. Moreover, since the Commission only has an observer status in the UN Commission of Narcotic Drugs, it was not in a position to intervene in this regard.