April 26, 2012
On Monday 23 April, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health attended a national seminar in Thailand on the country’s policies with regards to drug users.
Over 60 representatives from the Royal Thai Government, the community of people who use drugs, international organisations, academia and the United Nations agencies joined participated in this seminar, which was hosted by the Ministry of Justice and the United Nations Country Team. The purpose was to discuss current government policy on drug use and alternative approaches to compulsory detention of people who use drugs.
In Thailand, over one million people were reported to have used illicit drugs in 2010. Drug use, particularly use of methamphetamines, is on the increase in the country. This impacts the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
Compulsory rehabilitation centres
In his key note speech and presentation, Anand Grover, the Special Rapporteur, said: “Detention of people who use drugs in compulsory centres for rehabilitation, without individual informed consent is not only a violation of the right to health, but also illegal in international law.” He also made reference to countries in the region that have adopted a harm reduction approach to drug use. He then noted that harm reduction services, such as opioid substitution treatment with Methadone, have enabled opioid dependent people to start living normal lives (holding down jobs, engaging in stable family relationships) following years of struggle with drug dependence.
Whether harm reduction is a duty, right or a choice was further debated during an interactive panel discussion with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, the Thai Drug Users Network and Klongteuy Community/ Duangprateep Foundation.