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Thai King backs tough line on drugs

Thai drugs seizure
The Thai government has been determined to make a tough show of dealing with drugs  

BANGKOK, Thailand -- The King of Thailand has given his personal backing to tough penalties for drug traffickers saying the trade in illegal narcotics has wreaked havoc on his country.

According to the English language Bangkok Post, King Bhumibol Adulyadej told a recent swearing-in ceremony for new judges that he had recently rejected a petition for pardon from a death row inmate convicted of trafficking in 50,000 methamphetamine pills.

He said that had the pills got into the supply chain they would have caused many deaths and thrown society in disarray.

Speaking at his summer palace in the southern city of Hua Hin the King urged the assembled judges to apply what he called appropriate punishment to deter offenders from repeating their crimes.

He said there had been a number of occasions where convicted felons were pardoned and went back to repeat the crimes.

Executions on the rise

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So far this year Thailand has executed 11 people, mainly for offences involving drug trafficking.

In April five men were put to death in a mass execution designed by the government to show that it was taking a tough line on crime and drugs.

All but one of the five condemned men were convicted of drug-related offences.

However, the executions -- which a number of members of the media were invited to attend -- were condemned by human rights groups, both inside Thailand and abroad.

They accused the Thai government of using "legalized violence" to deal with the country's drug problem.

Thai King
King Bhumibol says drugs are wreaking havoc on Thai society  

Executions in Thailand are usually carried out by machine gun firing squad.

The King's comments come at a time when Thailand is facing an explosion in the use and trafficking of methamphetamines -- synthetic stimulants that anti-drugs officials says are mainly produced in secret labs in neighboring Myanmar.

The Thai military estimates that there are some 55 such labs just across the border able to produce between 600 to 700 million tablets this year.

Rehabilitation experts estimate there are some 300,000 methamphetamine addicts in the kingdom and another 2.7 million casual users.

• Bangkok Post
• Royal Thai Government

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